Low back pain is the number one reason that individuals seek medical treatment and is also the number one cause of disability. In 2006, procedures for facet syndrome represented 37% of all pain management interventional treatments according to Medicare. In the 10 years from 1997-2006, this represented a 624% increase in these procedures.
Interestingly, the true diagnosis of facet syndrome cannot be made by history, physical exam or radiology findings. The most reliable diagnostic method is with a medial branch block or a facet joint block.
One question that pops up a lot is what amount of pain relief is necessary for the patient to be a candidate for a subsequent radiofrequency ablation?
Multiple studies have actually looked at the difference in results between 50% versus 80% relief for the medial branch block as a prerequisite for an ablation. None of these have found any difference in results with a subsequent radiofrequency neurotomy.
In addition, some insurance companies require two successful medial branch block or facet joint procedures prior to a radiofrequency denervation. Interestingly, multiple studies looking at this also failed to find a difference in success rates between one versus two diagnostic procedures.
When it comes to corticosteroid injections into the facet joint, there are multiple studies that have found intermediate length pain relief. However, there have not been any large studies showing the benefit to be better than medial branch blocks.
There is substantial evidence favoring the medial branch blocks for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Medial branch blocks can provide up to three months on average of pain relief. So not only can the injections tell the Arizona pain doctor whether or not the facet joint is the cause of pain, but can also eliminate that pain for months.
If a subsequent radiofrequency ablation is performed, the pain relief from that can be anywhere from six months to 18 months, which is incredible. Studies have also looked at repeating the radiofrequency ablation if the pain relief wears off. Those have shown results just as good as the first time.
If you are suffering from chronic neck or back pain, Arizona Pain can help. They have 4 locations around the Valley, including a pain management Glendale AZ location along with one in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Chandler in the east valley.
Over 50 insurance plans are accepted including BCBS, Aetna, Humana, United, Cigna, Banner, Medicare, Medicaid, Personal Injury, Worker’s Compensation and many more.
Treatments offered at the AZ pain clinics include pain management, stem cell injection treatments, chiropractic, acupuncture, physical rehabilitation, spinal decompression therapy and more. Call (602) 507-6550 for more information and scheduling.