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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pulsed radiofrequency for the suprascapular nerve for patients with chronic headache

Shay Shabat, Josheph Leitner, Yoram Folman
Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology 2013, 25 (3): 340-3
23603883

BACKGROUND: Chronic shoulder or suprascapular pain is a disabling phenomenon. Chronic headache is also a disabling phenomenon for many patients. Once it was believed that chronic headache that is attributed to the cervical spine originates from the upper cervical nerve roots (C0-C3). Currently, it is suggested by some authors that the reason for headache in many patients is attributed to the lower cervical nerve roots in the cervical spine. The suprascapular nerve originates from the C5 and C6 nerve roots and supplies the suprascapular and shoulder region. Pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) has gained popularity over recent years as a good clinical tool in treating patients with shoulder/suprascapular pain. It is usually considered as a treatment option after conservative treatment has failed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether PRF for the suprascapular nerve has also beneficial effect for patients that have also chronic headache that is attributed to the lower cervical nerve roots.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty-nine patients with a follow-up of 1 year who had chronic shoulder/suprascapular pain and chronic headache were examined after they underwent PRF procedures to the suprascapular nerve (either unilateral or bilateral).

RESULTS: Forty patients (58%) reported long-term pain relief (1-y follow-up) for the shoulder/suprascapular pain and 31 patients (45%) reported long-term pain relief for the headache. This pain relief was defined as reduction of Visual Analogue Score by at least 30%. No complications were found in this study except for mild discomfort in the treated area which spontaneously resolved up to 3 weeks after the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS: PRF for the suprascapular nerve is a safe and an effective procedure for patients who suffer from shoulder/suprascapular pain and also for headache that is attributed to the lower cervical nerve roots. It should be tried after conservative treatment has failed.

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