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Finding Relief for Sciatica Pain: Comparing Single and Combined Treatments


Clinical trial confirms that combining two treatments is more effective for sciatica pain relief

If you've ever experienced severe pain down one leg, it's likely you've suffered from sciatica. Sciatica is often caused by a herniated (slipped) disk in your lower back. If your sciatica lasts longer than 12 weeks and hasn't responded to non-invasive treatments, such as painkillers or physiotherapy, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatments.

A clinical trial looked at two different treatments for sciatica: transforaminal epidural steroid injection (TFESI) alone and a combination of pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) and TFESI. The trial aimed to compare the effectiveness of the two treatments for relieving sciatic pain due to a herniated disk.

Clinical Trial

The trial included 351 participants with sciatica due to a herniated disk, who had been experiencing pain for over 12 weeks despite conservative treatments. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the first group received one treatment with combined PRF and TFESI, and the second group received TFESI alone. The researchers measured the severity of leg pain, as well as participants' disability levels before treatment, one week after treatment, and 52 weeks after treatment.


The results of the trial showed that the combination treatment of PRF and TFESI was more effective than TFESI alone. At the beginning of the trial, the average leg pain score for the PRF and TFESI group was 8.1, while for the TFESI group, it was 7.9. One week after treatment, the average pain score for the PRF and TFESI group had reduced to 3.2, while for the TFESI group, it was 5.4. After 52 weeks, the average pain score for the PRF and TFESI group was 1.0, while for the TFESI group, it was 3.9.

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In addition to measuring pain severity, the trial also measured disability levels using two different questionnaires: the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). The results showed that after 52 weeks, the average score for both questionnaires was better for the PRF and TFESI group compared to the TFESI alone group.

The combination treatment was generally safe, with adverse events occurring in only 6% of participants, while only 3% of the participants in the TFESI group reported adverse events. There were no serious adverse events recorded during the trial.

The results of this trial suggest that if you have sciatica due to a herniated disk and conservative treatments have not been effective, a combination of PRF and TFESI may be a more effective treatment than TFESI alone. This trial provides evidence that could help your doctor determine the most effective treatment for your sciatica.


This trial showed that pulsed radiofrequency combined with transforaminal epidural steroid injection is a more effective treatment for pain relief and disability improvement in patients suffering from sciatica caused by a herniated disk. If you're experiencing sciatic pain and conservative treatments haven't worked for you, speak to your doctor about the best treatment options available to you.


RSNA, Mar-28-23

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.