Burning the spinal nerves eases the pain of herniated discs in a patient's lower back, according to Spine-Health. This procedure is called intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty, or IDET. Doctors perform it on patients who have persistent back pain that doesn't respond to more conservative treatment.
Medical experts believe that the nerves having breached the inner layers of the disc that cushions the spaces between the vertebrae causes the chronic pain, according to WebMD. IDET is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure, which means that the patient can go home after a period of rest, according to Spine-Health. It only requires intravenous sedation and local anesthesia to numb the area. The patient first undergoes a discography to pinpoint the location of the problem.
Using an X-ray machine to guide him, the doctor inserts a needle into the painful area of the spine, then threads this needle with a heating wire, says Spine-Health The wire heats to about 194 degrees Fahrenheit and remains in the area for about 15 minutes. This heat makes the disc's collagen shrink and also burns the small nerves. Cauterizing the nerves makes them less sensitive to pain signals. The patient must wear a back brace for about two months. He also undergoes physical therapy as part of his recovery.