Persistent back pain due to irritated or worn spinal joints can radiate to the upper arms or thighs or may be expressed as local pain in the spine with pressure or movement. The minimally invasive “thermocoagulation” procedure is a gentle way of achieving a lasting effect and abolishing pain perception.

In this painless procedure (also known as heat probe treatment), heat and an electric current produce atrophy of the nerve that transmits the pain so symptoms are abolished locally. The entire very gentle procedure is performed under local anesthesia and takes about 45 minutes. It is an outpatient treatment and the patient can usually leave afterwards with a dressing over the treated site. The patient is reviewed the next day and the dressing is changed. Usually, the patient can resume ordinary daily activities in full after only 2 days.

Using an image intensifier (a mobile X-ray machine), a small heat probe (the size of an injection needle) is advanced precisely to the nerves being treated. The probe is then heated to 80 degrees Celsius for approximately 1 minute and this interrupts the ability of these nerves to transmit pain. Back pain is thus abolished locally.