Intracept, or basivertebral nerve radiofrequency ablation, is one of the newest advances in minimally invasive treatment of chronic back pain related to degenerative disc disease. Two randomized clinical studies have confirmed that this procedure can significantly reduce pain, disability and pain medication use, and has a long-term effect.

Discs are like shock absorbers between the vertebrae, which are the bones that make up your spine. Over time, these discs, particularly in the lumbar spine (lower back), can break down. This can cause the vertebrae on either side of the disc to become inflamed, leading to pain.

Your physician may order a lumbar MRI, which can capture images of this inflammation. These images, along with your medical history and a physical exam, can confirm that you have vertebrogenic pain.

To treat this type of pain, your physician may recommend the Intracept procedure:

  • They will place a small needle into the inflamed vertebra.
  • They will use the needle to center a small electrode within the vertebra at the basivertebral nerve.
  • They will heat the nerve for about 15 minutes, causing it to stop sending the pain signal.

This is an outpatient procedure. You will have general or twilight anesthesia, meaning you may or may not be awake. This will depend on your anatomy, age and health.

This procedure is permanent. You will not have to repeat it.