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Shockwave Therapy Offers Safe and Effective Relief for Lumbar Facet Joint Pain

Shockwave Therapy Offers Safe and Effective Relief for Lumbar Facet Joint Pain

Title: Mechano-transduction effect of shockwaves in the treatment of lumbar facet joint pain: comparative effectiveness evaluation of shockwave therapy, steroid injections and radiofrequency medial branch neurotomy

Authors: Tomas Nedelka, Jiri Nedelka, Jakub Schlenker, Christopher Hankins, Radim Mazanec

This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of shockwave therapy (SWT) in treating lumbar facet joint (FJ) pain and compare it with two other commonly used treatments: corticosteroid injections and radiofrequency medial branch neurotomy (RMBN).

Lumbar facet joints are a frequent source of chronic low back pain, contributing to about one-third of such cases. The current go-to treatment is RMBN, which involves using radiofrequency to treat the pain-causing nerves. Corticosteroid injections have also been used with some success, but they come with risks like infection or nerve damage due to their invasive nature.

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive approach to treat various musculoskeletal issues. It involves delivering mechanical energy to the affected area, triggering a series of biochemical processes that promote healing. This study wanted to see if SWT could be effective for FJ pain, a condition it hadn’t been tested on before.

The researchers looked at 62 patients with chronic lumbar facet pain. They divided them into three groups: one receiving SWT, one receiving corticosteroid injections, and one receiving RMBN. They then measured the intensity and severity of both nociceptive (pain caused by tissue damage) and neuropathic (pain caused by nerve damage) pain.

The results showed that shockwave therapy had better long-term outcomes compared to corticosteroid injections and was slightly less effective than RMBN. Importantly, the SWT group experienced no adverse effects or complications. In both the SWT and RMBN groups, patients also reported significant improvements in their ability to carry out daily activities without pain.

This study suggests that shockwave therapy could be a safe and promising option for treating lumbar facet joint pain. It provides comparable results to established treatments like RMBN, with the added benefit of being non-invasive and carrying fewer risks. As a result, shockwave therapy might offer relief to those suffering from chronic low back pain caused by lumbar facet joint issues.

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