What is the role of radiofrequency ablation during the acute phase of lumbosacral facet syndrome treatment?

Updated: Nov 19, 2018
  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Answer

While radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of general low back pain is controversial, one area that it seems to have better outcomes is lumbar facet syndrome. A study that investigated function, pain, and medication use outcomes of radiofrequency ablation for lumbar facet syndrome demonstrated a durable treatment effect of radiofrequency ablation for lumbar facet syndrome at long-term follow-up, as measured by improvement in function, pain, and analgesic use. [21]  

A study by Juch et al reviewed three randomized clinical trials that evaluated the effectiveness of radiofrequency denervation in 681 total patients with chronic low back pain and who were unresponsive to standard treatment (251 patients in the facet joint trial, 228 in the sacroiliac joint trial and 202 patients in a combination of facet joints, sacroiliac joints, or intervertebral disks trial). The study reported no clinically important improvements in patients from radiofrequency denervation combined with a standardized exercise program compared with a standardized exercise program alone. [22]


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