If you have lower back pain, trust me, you’re not alone! About 80 percent of adults undergo low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It is most commonly caused by job-related disability and is a leading contributor of missed work days. In a recent survey held, more than a quarter of adults reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months.
Men and women are equally affected by low back pain, which definitely varies in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp sensation that leaves the person incapacitated. Pain can set in motion unexpectedly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time due to age-related changes of the spine. Inactive lifestyles also can set the stage for low back pain, especially when a weekday routine of getting too little exercise is punctuated by exhausting weekend workout.
Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET) is a minimally invasive treatment for chronic low back pain that results from certain types of painful degenerative disc disease or contained disc herniation. Successful IDET treatment may allow some patients to experience good or excellent pain relief without having to undergo major spinal surgery for disc removal and spinal fusion, or disc replacement.
The IDET treatment was first introduced in 1997 and has been performed extensively since then. The procedure involves inserting a catheter into the disc and heating it up. It takes about an hour and can be readily performed on an outpatient basis (with no overnight hospital stay). Several disc levels may be treated in a single session.
This is a fairly recent technique, FDA approved in 1998, developed for treatment of pain originating from a spinal disc. In the past, severe low back and leg pain caused by a defect in the spinal disc typically required surgery. Surgery frequently can “cure” the problem, but it may not improve the pain. Surgery is also very invasive, not to mention expensive. The IDET procedure was developed and designed with the goal of reducing pain with less invasive techniques, decreasing the risks of complications, and lessening the recovery time and expense.
There are minimal risks associated with IDET when it is performed by an experienced physician. Initially, it was thought that disc space infection, nerve root injury, post treatment disc degeneration or herniation, and post treatment increase in back pain were significant concerns. However, most published studies of IDET therapy have not reported any significant complications and the real risk of complications are now felt to be quite low.