Electrothermal Therapy for Back Pain

Electrothermal Therapy for Back Pain

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) is a form of treatment that is used to help people who struggle with chronic pain in the lower back. The treatment works by targeting nerves that exist in between the vertebrae (discs) of the spinal cord.

This article will explore why a doctor of restorative pain management in San Diego might recommend this form of treatment. As a minimally invasive treatment, it offers a more appealing alternative to surgeries or other more intensive treatments.

How does electrothermal therapy work?

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy operates with the intention of helping to desensitize the nerves that exist in between the discs in our spine. The intravertebral discs normally act as a form of cushioning, helping to absorb shock and allow movement of the spine.

Unfortunately, if these discs become damaged or compressed, they can cause a lot of pain. This is a fairly common occurrence among people who have survived workplace injuries or vehicle accidents. Vertebral pain can impede a person’s range of motion and quality of life significantly. Electrothermal therapy works by heating up these nerves to the point that they become deactivated or burned out. This prevents them from sending pain signals.

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What is the IDET procedure like?

A patient will usually remain awake for the procedure. Since it is minimally invasive, a doctor of restorative pain management San Diego will have the patient locally anesthetized before making a small incision in the affected disc. They will then insert a catheter: a wire capable of carrying an electric current.

The catheter will then send this electric current into the body so that the nerves and pain receptors in the area will be shocked and burned off. This is all done by only heating the disc to a temperature of around 90 degrees Celcius.

Is Electrothermal Therapy effective?

IDET is a relatively new form of treatment. As such, there have not been a lot of long-term studies done on its effects. However, the research that we have collected seems promising. Most patients report that they experience quick relief from their painful symptoms. This relief tends to last for up to six months (and in some cases, longer) before the nerves are able to regenerate themselves. However, due to the lack of long-term data, nobody can speak as to the long-term efficacy or safety of electrothermal therapy.

Is this treatment right for me?

Generally, this form of treatment is not offered unless the patient has tried several other methods for managing their pain. If you have already tried treating your back pain with medication, physiotherapy, or nerve block injections, your doctor may want to recommend this treatment for you.

Keep in mind that this particular form of treatment is only useful for people who struggle with intradiscal lower back pain. There are many other types of back pain that are not caused by problems with these discs. Speak with your doctor to learn more.


Electrothermal therapy is a powerful and minimally invasive treatment that can help to reduce pain in the lower back. This treatment works by applying heat to the discs in between the vertebrae. This heat effectively destroys the pain receptors, providing relief for several months.

Patients who have used this treatment report that it is quite effective. However, there isn’t a lot of long-term safety data about the procedure. If you’re interested in giving it a try, speak with a doctor of restorative pain management in San Diego. Your experience and success could help pave the way for further patients to find relief.

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