IDET and Prolotherapy for back pain

Numerous medical citations point to the evidence for IDET, percutaneous discectomy, and nucleoplasty for low back pain (LBP) and radicular pain. Unfortunately for many patients, these techniques have shown limited or no benefit. (1)

Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy for Pain
Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET) is a therapy for back pain and involves heating a vertebral disc that has been identified as the source of pain. Sounds simple, but the actual procedure is a bit more complex. First, a large needle with anesthetic is placed in the lower part of the back and into the suspected disc. Once the anesthetic is injected and the low back is numb, and even larger needle is inserted into the low back. The needle tip is heated in order to kill nerves in the area and block pain signals going to the brain. Results tend to be temporary and some doctors reserve IDET for a small number of back pain patients. IDET is done under fluoroscopy that makes the cost in the several thousands of dollars range.

Prolotherapy vs. Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy

We’ve said it before and we will say it again: besides an acute herniated disc problem pressing on a nerve, most other disc conditions as seen by MRI are not the cause of the person’s low back pain.

When a person is diagnosed with a herniated or degenerated disc, most treatments go after the actual disc.  While there are many sources of back pain, most all of the root causes are ligament laxity or injury. Therefore an appropriate treatment would be one that addresses the ligaments. Prolotherapy does just that. By inducing a natural inflammation Prolotherapy uses the body’s own healing factors to heal chronic back pain. Not only is it more effective than IDET, but it is also a simpler procedure and it costs far less. Prolotherapy offers permanent healing.

1. Freeman BJ, Mehdian R. Intradiscal electrothermal therapy, percutaneous discectomy, and nucleoplasty: what is the current evidence? Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2008 Jan;12(1):14-21.