Pulsed radiofrequency lesioning of the suprascapular nerve for chronic shoulder pain: a preliminary report

Po-Chou Liliang, Kang Lu, Cheng-Loong Liang, Yu-Duan Tsai, Ching-Hua Hsieh, Han-Jung Chen
Pain Medicine: the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine 2009, 10 (1): 70-5

OBJECTIVE: Chronic shoulder pain is difficult to treat, and the efficacy of most interventions is limited. This study was conducted to evaluate pulsed mode radiofrequency (PRF) lesioning of the suprascapular nerve for treating chronic shoulder pain. Interventions. Thirteen procedures using PRF lesioning of suprascapular nerve were performed under fluoroscopic guide in 11 patients (13 shoulder joints) with chronic shoulder pain for at least 3 months.

OUTCOME MEASURES: The patients were evaluated for pain, shoulder disability function, and medication requirements prior to and after treatment.

RESULTS: At 1-month follow-up assessment, 10 (76.9%) shoulder joints had significant pain relief (visual analog scale >or= 50% reduction), and at 6-month follow-up assessment, nine (69.2%) still had significant pain relief. The mean VAS score of 11 patients before PRF was 7.5 +/- 1.0, and the scores at 1-month and 6-month follow-up were 2.8 +/- 2.6 and 2.5 +/- 2.8, respectively. A significant pain reduction (P < 0.001) was observed. The mean Shoulder Pain and Disability Index scores at 6-month follow-up also showed a significant decrease compared with pre-PRF (P < 0.001). Medication requirements were evaluated 1 month and 6 months after the PRF. Nine (81.8%) patients had their medication requirement decreased.

CONCLUSIONS: Pulsed mode radiofrequency lesioning to suprascapular nerve is a potential treatment option for patients suffering chronic shoulder pain. It provides long-lasting pain relief and decreases pain medication requirements.

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