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Chiropractic Research Review

Radiofrequency Lumbar Facet Denervation for LBP

Acute low back pain (LBP) is prevalent in the adult population and can lead to chronicity in 8-12% of patients. This paper assessed the effectiveness of percutaneous radiofrequency denervation in reducing pain, functional disability and physical impairment in LBP patients.

Thirty-one patients with a history of chronic low back pain (> one year of pain) participated in the study.

All patients had previously been treated with physical therapy, manipulation, transcutaneous electrical stimulation or medication.

Patients in the treatment group received a radiofrequency lesion to the dorsal ramus of the segmental nerve roots L3, L4 and L5. Patients in the control group underwent the same procedure, but without the application of a radiofrequency current. Before and after treatment, physical impairment, pain, degree of disability and quality of life were assessed by a blinded investigator.

The radiofrequency group was significantly more pain-free and had significantly less functional impairment than the control group. These differences were observed at eight weeks, three months, six months and 12 months after treatment.

The authors believe that this is the first study to demonstrate the clinical effectiveness of radiofrequency lumbar zygapophysial joint denervation in alleviating chronic low back pain in a select group of patients.

Van Kleef M, Barendse GAM, Kessels A, et al. Randomized trial of radiofrequency lumbar facet denervation for chronic low back pain. Spine, Sept. 15, 1999:24(18), pp1937-42.

Chiropractic Research Review

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