Percutaneous Disc Decompression Gives Long-Term Back Pain Relief

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • A recent study revealed that percutaneous disc decompression resulted in significant relief for painful herniated discs in sciatica patients for up to two years.   The results of this first-of-its-kind study, conducted at the University of Athens in Greece, were presented at the Radiological Society of North America's 95th Annual Meeting earlier this month. 

    Study Methods

    This was a randomized, controlled study that compared standard conservative therapy to the minimally invasive treatment known as percutaneous disc decompression.  Subjects were divided into two groups, each containing 17 men and 14 women who complained of back and leg pain and were confirmed to have herniated discs and sciatica.  Both groups had tried various conservative treatments in the past which were unsuccessful. 

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    The first group received six weeks of rigorous conservative therapy, which included analgesics, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications.  The second group was treated with percutaneous disc decompression.  Both groups were evaluated three months, 12 months and 24 months later.

    Three months after the treatment, both groups reported pain reduction and increased mobility.  However, at the 12 and 24 month evaluations, the first group reported that their pain had returned and their mobility had decreased, while the second group continued to experience improvement. 

    How Percutaneous Disc Decompression Works

    Percutaneous disc decompression is done on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic.  Utilizing imaging technology, a needle is inserted into the disc.  The disc is deflated by either removing some tissue or using energy to dissovle the tissue.  The entire procedure only takes about 30 minutes and there is little pain.  Most patients can do sedentary work after a week or two and resume other normal activities in about a month. 

    This procedure is only suitable for herniated discs that are not ruptured and are not too compressed.  But for patients who qualify, percutaneous disc decompression may provide long-term pain relief from sciatica, radiculopathy or pure axial pain caused by a central bulge of the disc. 

    Outpatient disc treatment gives long-term back pain relief. (2009, December 03). Medical News Today, Retrieved from
    Hirsch, MD, J.A. (2009, October 27). Percutaneous discectomy. Retrieved from


Published On: December 15, 2009