A team of researchers from the Netherlands evaluated three clinical trials involving 681 patients with chronic low back pain and found that radiofrequency denervation combined with exercise did not bring about a significant reduction of pain compared to exercise alone after 3 months.
Radiofrequency denervation is commonly used to treat chronic low back pain, but the team pointed out that evidence demonstrating its efficacy is lacking.
Researchers conducted 3 trials to assess the effectiveness of the minimal interventional procedure. People eligible for the trial included those who had chronic low back pain, a positive diagnostic block at the facet joints, sacroiliac joints or a combination of facet joints, sacroiliac joints or intervertebral disks. The selected participants were unresponsive to conservative care, the team reported.
All of the study participants were treated with a 3-month standardized exercise program and psychological support as needed. In the intervention group, people also received radiofrequency denervation.
The study’s primary outcome was pain intensity based on a numeric rating scale, which was measured 3 months following intervention. The clinically important difference was set as 2 points or more.
Among the 3 trials, radiofrequency denervation combined with exercise yielded either no improvement or no clinically important improvement in chronic low back pain compared to exercise alone.
“These findings do not suport the use of radiofrequency denervation to treat chronic low back pain from these sources,” the team wrote.