Two New Treatments For Sciatica

According to, roughly 40 percent of people will experience the pain from sciatica that runs along the spine, the pelvis and buttocks at some point in their life. The condition, which is caused by the compression of spinal discs and nerve endings, typically presents itself on one side of a person's body. The pain ranges from mild and temporary to extreme and enduring.

However, for the millions of people that will miss work or fight through pain throughout the day, there are two relatively new treatments that could help them.

Intradiscal Electrothermoplasty (IDET)

To alleviate the pain caused by sciatica, a needle is inserted into an affect disc. This procedure is carried out under the guidance of an X-ray machine. Once the needle is inserted, a wire is fed into and through the needle. Once it lies along the outside of the disk (also known as the annulus), the wire is heated.

The heat destroys any of the nerves that have grown along any cracks in the disc. Additionally, the heat damages part of the annulus. The body will regenerate new material to repair it. During the initial studies of IDET, success rates ranged from 23 percent to 65 percent.

Radiofrequency Discal Nucleoplasty (Coblation Nucleoplasty) 

A relative newcomer to the treatment of sciatica, nucleoplasty uses a nearly similar procedure as IDET. A doctor inserts a needle into the disc, but instead of following it up with a wire, a radiofrequency probe is inserted. The probe is specially designed to emit a plasma field of directly focused energy. This energy breaks up molecular bonds within the nucleus's gel. In effect, the nucleus is partially vaporized.

Anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the nucleus is removed, which allows the disc to decompress. This decompression relieves pressure within the disc, which also alleviates any stress placed on the nerves. It's thought that this treatment is more effective than IDET because it reduces the bulge of the disc. Because it uses low-temperature energy, it reduces the amount of damage to tissue in the surrounding area.

Although they haven't undergone critical studying and haven't produced enough results to be considered effective treatments, the outlook for each is extremely promising. The procedures are not only cheaper than conventional methods, they are also safer.

Current procedures involve surgery on the discs in the back, which carry the potential for increased nerve damage or even partial paralysis. For more information about sciatica treatment, visit