Medical Minute 12-20: Hot Shot for Back Pain

By: Melissa Medalie Email
By: Melissa Medalie Email

Barbara Koscielski loves the library, but until now she couldn't sit and read to save her life.

"To sit was, you know, I couldn't sit, not for long periods," said Barbara Koscielski.

Pain sprouted in her lower back, her sacro-iliac joint where the base of the spine meets the pelvis. When pain injections didn't work, she considered surgery.

"Things that people take for granted, I couldn't do."

85 percent of all American adults suffer from back pain, with up to 20 percent victims of pain.

"I couldn't walk down to the end of the block," she said.

Mercy Medical Center's Doctor David Maine tried a new procedure called RFA, or radio-frequency ablation on Barbara.

"What we're basically trying to do is take away the sensory nervous system supply to that joint," said David Maine, M.D., Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

The six-inch probe is heated to 176 degrees. Inserted through a small incision, it disrupts sensory nerves going into the joint. No nerves, no pain.

"At 80 degrees Celsius we think that we have a complete de-nervation, or destruction of those nerves," said Dr. Maine.

Studies show one month after the procedure, 79% of patients had pain relief. Only 66% of people found relief with pain-killing injections.

"I could tell within a few days that that initial pain was gone."

Barbara was out of the hospital the same day, back moving within two more.The best part of being up-right again? Sitting down with a good book.

"It was a really good feeling, very nice."

For more information, contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500,

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