In yet another attempt to find an effective cure for chronic back pain, researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine have come up with a new stimulation therapy. They believe the new method is even more effective than traditional spinal cord stimulation, or SCS, methods used for chronic back pain.
The methods used to treat chronic back pain in recent years don't provide complete relief to patients, and may have unwanted side effects. However, the Wake Forest researchers say the new SCS method that generates higher frequencies than traditional treatments may provide an effective solution.
The North Carolina researchers conducted their study – which is published in the Journal of American Society of Anesthesiologists – on two groups of people with chronic back and leg pain. The first group was treated under the traditional SCS methods, while the others were implanted with a 10-kHz high-frequency SCS device. To check the efficiency of the treatment methods, the researchers assumed that a patient should experience a minimum of 50 percent reduction in back pain to be categorized as a suitable respondent to the treatment.
The researchers found that in the patients implanted with the SCS device, 84.5 percent were considered as a responder for back pain, while 83.1 percent were categorized as a responder for leg pain. Meanwhile, of those treated traditionally, only 43.8 percent were marked as responders to back pain and 55.5 percent for leg pain.
"This is the first long-term study to compare the safety and effectiveness of high frequency and traditional SCS therapy for back and leg pain," said the lead author and researcher, Dr. Leonardo Kapural.
“ As chronic pain has long been debilitating patients and medicines provide minimal relief and side effects, the emergence of high frequency SCS is innovative and exciting news for patients."
It is estimated that nearly one-fourth of Americans report of chronic back problems once in their lifetime. Depending on the severity, the condition can last from weeks to months or several years. In the absence of an effective treatment, chronic back pain can severely affect the daily routine of the patient.