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      A review of percutaneous techniques for low back pain and neuralgia: current trends in epidural infiltrations, intervertebral disk and facet joint therapies

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      The British Journal of Radiology

      British Institute of Radiology

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          Abstract

          <p class="first" id="d10354246e141">Low back pain and neuralgia due to spinal pathology are very common symptoms debilitating numerous patients with peak prevalence at ages between 45 and 60 years. Intervertebral discs and facet joints act as pain sources in the vast majority of the cases. Diagnosis is based on the combination of clinical examination and imaging studies. Therapeutic armamentarium for low back pain and neuralgia due to intervertebral discs and/or facet joints includes conservative therapy, injections, percutaneous therapeutic techniques and surgical options. Percutaneous, therapeutic techniques are imaging-guided, minimally invasive treatments which can be performed as outpatient procedures. In cases of facet joint syndrome, they include, apart from injections, neurolysis with radiofrequency/cryoablation, MR-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound and percutaneous fixation techniques. In case of discogenic pain, apart from infiltrations, therapeutic techniques can be classified in to two main categories: decompression (mechanical, thermal, chemical) techniques and biomaterials implantation/disc cell therapies. Strict sterility measures are a prerequisite and should include extensive local sterility and antibiotic prophylaxis. This article will report clinical and imaging findings for each pathology type and the association with treatment decision. In addition, we will describe in detail all possible treatment techniques for low back pain and neuralgia, and we will report recently published results of these techniques summarizing the data concerning safety and effectiveness as well as the level of evidence. Finally, we will try to provide a rational approach for the therapy of low back pain and neuralgia by means of minimally invasive imaging-guided percutaneous techniques. </p>

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          Most cited references 49

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          Direct evidence for spinal cord involvement in placebo analgesia.

          Placebo analgesia is a prime example of the impact that psychological factors have on pain perception. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging of the human spinal cord to test the hypothesis that placebo analgesia results in a reduction of nociceptive processing in the spinal cord. In line with behavioral data that show decreased pain responses under placebo, pain-related activity in the spinal cord is strongly reduced under placebo. These results provide direct evidence for spinal inhibition as one mechanism of placebo analgesia and highlight that psychological factors can act on the earliest stages of pain processing in the central nervous system.
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            Local corticosteroid application blocks transmission in normal nociceptive C-fibres.

            The effect of a locally applied depot form of a corticosteroid on the electrical properties of nerves was investigated in an experimental model. The segmental transmission in electrically stimulated A-fibres and in C-fibres of the plantar nerve in the anaesthetized rat was utilized. A drop of methylprednisolone acetate or vehicle constituent was placed on the dissected plantar nerve proximal to the stimulating electrodes after recording control responses (A-fibre volley in the sciatic nerve and C-fibre evoked reflex discharge in flexor motoneurons). The corticosteroid was found to suppress the transmission in thin unmyelinated C-fibres but not in myelinated A-beta fibres. The effect was found to be due to the corticosteroid per se. The effect was reversed when the corticosteroid was removed, which suggests a direct membrane action.
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              The effect of disc degeneration and facet joint osteoarthritis on the segmental flexibility of the lumbar spine.

              A biomechanical and imaging study of human cadaveric spinal motion segments. To investigate the effect of both disc degeneration and facet joint osteoarthritis on lumbar segmental motion. Spinal degeneration includes the osteoarthritic changes of the facet joint as well as disc degeneration. Disc degeneration has been reported to be associated with spinal motion. The association of facet joint osteoarthritis with lumbar segmental motion characteristics and the combined influence of disc degeneration and facet osteoarthritis has not yet been investigated. A total of 110 lumbar motion segments (52 female, 58 male) from 44 human lumbar spines were studied (mean age = 69 years). Magnetic resonance images were used to assess the disc degeneration from Grade I (normal) to Grade V (advanced) and the osteoarthritic changes in the facet joints in terms of cartilage degeneration, subchondral sclerosis, and osteophytes. Disc height, endplate size, and facet joint orientation and width also were measured from the computed tomographic images. Rotational movements of the motion segment in response to the flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotational moments were measured using a three-dimensional motion analysis system. Female motion segments showed significantly greater motion (lateral bending: P < 0. 001, flexion: P < 0.01, extension: P < 0.05) and smaller endplate size (P < 0.001) than male ones. The segmental motion increased with increasing severity of disc degeneration up to Grade IV, but decreased in both genders when the disc degeneration advanced to Grade V. In male segments, the disc degeneration-related motion changes were significant in axial rotation (P < 0.001), lateral bending (P < 0.05), and flexion (P < 0.05), whereas female segments showed significant changes only in axial rotation (P < 0.001). With cartilage degeneration of the facet joints, the axial rotational motion increased, whereas the lateral bending and flexion motion decreased in female segments. In male segments, however, motion in all directions increased with Grade 3 cartilage degeneration and decreased with Grade 4 cartilage degeneration. Subchondral sclerosis significantly decreased the motion (female: axial rotation, P < 0. 05; extension, P < 0.05 vs.- male:flexion,P < 0.05). Severity of osteophytes had no significant association with the segmental motion. Axial rotational motion was most affected by disc degeneration, and the effects of disc degeneration on the motion were similar between genders. Facet joint osteoarthritis also affected segmental motion, and the influence differed for male and female spines. Further studies are needed to clarify whether the degenerative process of facet joint osteoarthritis differs between genders and how facet joint osteoarthritis affects the stability of the spinal motion segment.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                The British Journal of Radiology
                BJR
                British Institute of Radiology
                0007-1285
                1748-880X
                January 2016
                January 2016
                : 89
                : 1057
                : 20150357
                Article
                10.1259/bjr.20150357
                4985947
                26463233
                © 2016

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