I have a chronic low back pain from a work-related injury that's covered under Worker's Comp. So far nothing I've tried has helped. I'd like to avoid surgery. Would this new heat treatment called IDET work? Worker's comp won't cover it. Is it the sort of thing I should just pay for myself? I'm desperate for some pain relief here.

A study on intradiscal electrothermal (IDET) therapy was first published in the year 2000. The results were very promising. Patients were able to sit for longer periods of time. Their physical function improved as their pain went down.

Since that time many other researchers have tried to repeat the results found in the original study. The results have varied from success to failure and anywhere in between. A review of those studies helps explain some of the differences. For example, the treatment wasn't always carried out in the same way. The measures of success weren't always the same.

The most recent study out of South Australia compared IDET with a sham (placebo) group. They found that although the treatment was safe, there was no difference in results between the two groups. They did not recommend the use of IDET for chronic low back pain from disc disease.