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Back and Spine

Experience Lasting Comfort: The Intracept Procedure for Chronic Back Pain Relief

The Intracept Procedure offers a new, minimally invasive solution for chronic low back pain, typically caused by vertebrogenic pain from a previously injured vertebra. Utilizing radiofrequency energy, this outpatient procedure disrupts pain signals from the spine, providing lasting relief with minimal recovery time. The guide discusses the procedure's steps, from pre-op preparation, including physical and mental readiness, to post-op care. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the procedure, managing stress levels, and following medical instructions for a successful recovery. The procedure's high success rate makes it a promising alternative to traditional treatments for chronic low back pain.
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By Steve Birnhak
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Medically reviewed by
Dr. Mark Aranson
stretching after intracept

Imagine a life where chronic low back pain doesn’t dictate your every move. Where relief isn’t just temporary, but lasting. This is the reality for those who have discovered the Intracept Procedure, a new minimally invasive procedure for chronic low back pain usually caused by vertebrogenic pain from a previously injured vertebra.

Key Takeaways

  • The Intracept Procedure is an outpatient procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to disrupt the transmission of pain signals from the spine.

  • It offers lasting relief with minimal recovery time for vertebrogenic chronic low back pain, with higher success rates than traditional treatments.

  • Patients can find a qualified provider by verifying their certification through the InterCEPT Certificate of Training website.

Understanding the Intracept Procedure

chronic lower-back pain
chronic lower-back pain

The Intracept Procedure, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure, is a beacon of hope for those struggling with chronic low back pain usually from a previously injured vertebra. Instead of invasive surgery, this procedure uses radiofrequency energy to disrupt the transmission of pain signals from injured vertebral discs in the spine to the brain, specifically targeting the basivertebral nerve.

The basivertebral nerve is instrumental in sending pain signals from damaged vertebral endplates, which makes it an optimal target for the Intracept Procedure. Using a specially designed Intracept probe, controlled radiofrequency energy is applied to the basivertebral nerve, performing a basivertebral nerve ablation and effectively inhibiting the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

The Role of Basivertebral Nerve in Chronic Low Back Pain

Basivertebral nerve in chronic low back pain
Basivertebral nerve in chronic low back pain

The basivertebral nerve, located within the vertebral body, is largely responsible for sending pain signals from damaged vertebral endplates. This nerve’s role in transmitting pain signals makes it the optimal target for the Intracept Procedure.

The pathway of these pain signals is quite intricate. The basivertebral nerve fibers traverse the basivertebral foramen or opening and merge with the sinuvertebral nerve. From here, the pain signals ascend via the intervertebral foramen to reach the dorsal root ganglion. These signals are then relayed to the spinal cord and finally to the brain, where they are perceived as pain.

Intracept: A Minimally Invasive Solution

Intracept stands out amongst other treatments due to its minimally invasive nature. The procedure utilizes radiofrequency energy to target and deaden the nerves responsible for vertebrogenic low-back pain, without the need for major surgery. This outpatient procedure effectively disrupts pain signals, offering a compelling alternative to invasive spine surgery.

Remarkably, the efficacy of the Intracept Procedure in alleviating vertebrogenic pain ranges from 64-74%. This success rate, combined with its minimally invasive nature, makes Intracept a preferred choice among patients suffering from chronic low back pain, seeking lasting relief with minimal recovery time. It should not affect the function of the spinal cord transmitting sensations to and from other parts of the body.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Intracept Procedure

Undergoing the Intracept procedure comprises three steps: preparation before the procedure, the procedure itself, and post-procedure care. Each stage is meticulously planned to ensure a smooth and successful treatment process.

Pre-Procedure Preparation

Preparing for the Intracept procedure effectively requires both physical and mental readiness. This includes undergoing necessary pre-op lab tests and evaluations as advised by your physician, which are key to optimizing your recovery after surgery.

For a thorough approach, consider engaging with a physician-approved wellness program like Ready Set Recover. This program is specially crafted to address both the physical and emotional aspects of preparing for surgery. It offers comprehensive guidance on pain management, wound care, and physical therapy, all aimed at enhancing your recovery process.

While Ready Set Recover provides a detailed framework for care before and after surgery, integrating it with additional wellness practices can further ensure a successful, quick, and smooth recovery. These practices might involve seeking personalized advice from healthcare professionals and gaining support from friends and family, both of which can play a crucial role in a balanced preparation regimen.

During the Procedure

During the Intracept Procedure, the surgeon performs the following steps:

  1. Inserts a probe through a small incision in the patient’s back to reach the vertebral body.

  2. Delivers radiofrequency energy through the probe, generating heat.

  3. Ablates the basivertebral nerve using the heat, disrupting the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, ensuring patient comfort throughout the process. Typically, the procedure takes approximately one hour to complete.

Post-Procedure Care

Proper post-procedure care is key to a successful recovery. This includes:

  • Monitoring

  • Scheduling follow-up appointments

  • Adhering to recovery guidelines

  • Rest

  • Medication

  • Possibly physical therapy exercises prescribed by a healthcare professional

All of these are part of the post-procedure care plan.

Walking is recommended during the recovery process following the Intracept Procedure. Regular follow-ups are also important to monitor progress and ensure optimal recovery.

Recovery and Results: What Patients Can Expect

Most patients can resume their normal activities about a week or two after undergoing the Intracept Procedure. This short recovery time is one of the many advantages of this minimally invasive procedure.

Patients typically experience a decrease in their vertebrogenic pain a couple of weeks after the procedure. Patients usually report significant improvement in chronic lower back pain within two to six weeks of the procedure. Notable enhancements should be expected around three months post-procedure.

Comparing Intracept to Other Treatments

Intracept distinguishes itself from other treatments for chronic low back pain with its less invasive approach and swift recovery period. Other treatments may involve invasive procedures with potential side effects such as slight soreness around the incision, bruising, infection, increased back pain, bleeding, and nerve damage.

Clinical trials report that the success rate of the Intracept procedure is 69%, with 64% of patients experiencing a greater than 50% reduction in pain after 12 months. The high success rate of Intracept makes it a compelling choice for those seeking relief from vertebrogenic pain.

Life After Intracept

recovery from chronic lower back pain
recovery from chronic lower back pain

One study reported that 71% of many patients had regained the level of activity they enjoyed prior to experiencing chronic low back pain, thanks to long term pain relief. These success stories showcase the life-changing potential of the Intracept Procedure and provide hope for those still suffering from chronic back pain.

Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Intracept?

The Intracept Procedure is best suited for patients enduring vertebrogenic chronic low back pain who haven’t found relief from conservative treatments for at least six months. Eligibility for the procedure also requires patients to demonstrate MRI features consistent with Modic changes.

It’s important to note that certain conditions may contraindicate the Intracept Procedure. These include:

  • Pregnancy

  • Weakened cardiac or pulmonary function

  • Having an implanted electronic medical device

  • Systemic or local infection

  • Anatomy that could be damaged unintentionally while ablating the basivertebral nerve

  • Being skeletally immature

How Intracept Fits into Comprehensive Spine Care

Comprehensive spine care adopts a multidisciplinary approach in diagnosing, treating, and managing spine-related conditions. This approach includes a team of healthcare professionals, including:

  • Spine surgeons

  • Physical therapists

  • Pain management specialists

  • Chiropractors

  • Orthopedic surgeons

  • Neurologists

  • Radiologists

  • Rehabilitation specialists

These professionals work together to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for patients with spine-related issues.

Intracept fits seamlessly into this model by providing a minimally invasive treatment option for chronic low-back pain that originates inside the vertebrae. It is designed to provide long-term relief and is the only procedure approved for this purpose, making it an integral part of comprehensive spine care.

Finding a Qualified Intracept Provider

Selecting a proficient Intracept provider is a significant part of your path to pain relief. An ideal Intracept provider should:

  • Have completed their initial training

  • Have performed at least 5 Intracept procedures

  • Have a solid understanding of anatomy and kinetics

  • Be proficient in the diagnosis and management of disease

You can verify the certification of an Intracept provider by visiting the manufacturer's website and searching for a doctor in your area.

This process ensures that you are entrusting your care to a professional who has undergone the necessary training to perform the procedure effectively.


The Intracept Procedure offers a groundbreaking solution to chronic low back pain. Its minimally invasive nature, combined with its targeted approach to disrupting pain signals, sets it apart from traditional treatment options. It offers a shorter recovery time and boasts a high success rate, making it an attractive alternative for those who have not responded to conservative treatments.

If you’re one of the many people living with chronic low back pain, know that relief is possible. With the Intracept Procedure, you have the opportunity to reclaim your life from pain and experience the lasting relief you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the Intracept procedure last?

The Intracept Procedure typically takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes, performed in an operating room or Ambulatory Surgery Center with the patient going home on the same day.

What is the success rate of the Intracept procedure?

The Intracept procedure has shown promising results, with 65% of patients experiencing at least a 50% reduction in back pain and 36.2% experiencing at least a 75% reduction in back pain.

Is Intracept procedure the same as ablation?

The Intracept procedure, also known as basivertebral nerve ablation, is a minimally invasive treatment used for chronic low back pain when other treatments have failed. It differs from ablation which is a more general term for using energy to destroy or remove tissue.

What are the side effects of the Intracept procedure?

Intracept procedure side effects can include increased pain at the procedure site, numbness or tingling in the legs or feet, swelling or bruising at the procedure site, infection, bleeding, nerve injury, and allergic reactions. Though these side effects are mild and temporary, it's important to note that serious complications are rare.

What is the Intracept Procedure?

The Intracept Procedure is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that targets the basivertebral nerve to provide long-lasting relief from chronic low back pain caused by vertebrogenic pain.

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