Patients who experience severe chronic pain in the back and legs could have a new treatment, according to a study published in the November issue of Neurosurgery.
The new technique assures lasting reductions in these types of pains in patients whose treatments have failed to ameliorate their situations.
The study, carried out by Dr. Leonardo Kapural and his colleagues from the Center of Clinical Research and Carolinas Pain Institute, suggests that the impact of this new treatment could be a major improvement in chronic back and leg pain. According to the study, it is also plausible for other pain conditions to be treated using this method, as well.
The methodology of the study involved 171 patients having moderate to severe pains at their backs and legs; they were all formerly treated with medicines that failed to give results and improve their conditions.
The tests were carried out at 11 U.S. specialized pain centers, and the average presence of chronic pain in the patients spanned roughly 14 years. Of the 171 patients, approximately 90 percent went through back surgery, and a similar percentage tried opioid pain medications in order to improve their state.
The study had a trial period, after which each subject was randomly assigned to one of the two spinal cord stimulation techniques, both of which involved mild electrical stimulation being tested on the spinal nerves responsible for the chronic pains.
One of the two groups was subjected to HF10, a high-frequency stimulation of 10 kilohertz, which stimulated for a very short time the targeted spinal nerves. The other group was treated with a much lower frequency stimulation, which was applied for longer periods of time.
Of the two groups, the first one, subjected to higher stimulation, performed better in terms of pain relief. Three months after the trial, these patients' backaches and leg pains lessened in more than 80 percent of the patients using the technique with as much as half the intensity. By contrast, the conventional treatment managed to perform the same pain relief score for no more than 44 percent in backache patients and 55 percent in leg pain patients.
After a two-year follow-up, the group treated with the HF10 formula and subjected to more intense electrical stimuli still had the better pain relief scores: 76 percent, compared to the 49 percent in backache patients and 73 percent compared to 49 percent in leg pain patients.
Further scientific research will be carried out in an attempt to understand whether the HF10 treatment is also useful for other chronic pain patients with different problems, such as pain in the arms and the neck.