Is IDET Safe and Effective for Low Back Pain?
At the turn of the century (2000) a new way to treat chronic low back pain (CLBP) caused by disc disease was introduced. It was called intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET). Early studies of this heat treatment put directly into the disc were promising. Later results were more conflicting with risks more clearly defined.
The authors of this study compare a group of CLBP patients who got IDET to a group with the same symptoms who had a placebo (sham) treatment. No one (except the person applying the IDET) knew which patients were in each group. Each person followed a Pilates-based exercise program.
Everyone was seen again at six weeks and at six months after the treatment. Measures of success included pain relief, increased activity level, and the ability to sit. Use of medications, ability to work, and any neurologic signs were also recorded.
The researchers set the standard for success based on these measures. No one in either group met the standard. In other words, there were no success stories. The authors concluded there was no difference between the two groups.
IDET may be a safe treatment bit it has not been proven consistently successful. The authors of this study review why previous studies have such wide-ranging results. They conclude that IDET is not beneficial for most patients with CLBP from disc disease.
Brian J. C. Freeman, FRCS (TR & ORTH), et al. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial. Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy Versus Placebo for the Treatment of Chronic Discogenic Low Back Pain. In Spine. November 1, 2005. Vol. 30. No. 21. Pp. 2369-2377.