A comparison of conventional and pulsed radiofrequency denervation in the treatment of chronic facet joint pain

Clin J Pain. 2007 Jul-Aug;23(6):524-9. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e318074c99c.


Objectives: The goal of this study was to compare the effects of conventional radiofrequency (CRF) and pulsed RF (PRF) denervation to medial branches of dorsal rami in the treatment of facet joint pain.

Methods: The patients greater than 17-year old, with continuous low back pain with or without radiating pain with focal tenderness over the facet joints, pain on hyperextension, absence of neurologic defect, unresponsiveness to conservative treatment, no radicular syndrome, and no indication for low back surgery were included in the study. Local anesthetic was applied in the control group (n=20), whereas 80 degrees C CRF were applied in the CRF (n=20) and 2 Hz PRF were applied in the PRF group (n=20). Pain relief was evaluated by visual analog scale (VAS) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) at preprocedure, at procedure, at 6 months and 1 year after the procedure. Reduction in analgesic usage, patients' satisfaction, and complications were assessed.

Results: Mean preprocedural VAS and ODI scores were higher than postprocedural scores in all groups. Both VAS and ODI scores of PRF and CRF groups were lower than the score of the control group at the postprocedural evaluation. Although decrease the pain score was maintained in the CRF group at 6 months and 1-year period, this decrease discontinued in the PRF group at the follow-up periods. The number of patients not using analgesics and patient satisfaction were highest in CRF group.

Discussion: PRF and CRF are effective and safe alternatives in the treatment of facet joint pain but PRF is not as long lasting as CRF.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthralgia / therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Denervation / methods*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiosurgery / methods*
  • Zygapophyseal Joint*