In an interview on the Rusk Insights on Rehabilitation Medicine podcast, Salvador E. Portugal, DO, clinical instructor of rehabilitation medicine, spoke about his research around iliocostal friction syndrome:
Iliocostal friction syndrome condition is extremely rare and often overlooked. Patients typically present with flank pain that is initially thought of as something originating from the kidney or spine-related pain. Sometimes these patients will complain of upper quadrant pain, which might be thought of as something that is affecting one of the organs or might be thought of as something within the lung, though you also see in these patients that they will have this abnormal curvature, which causes their rib to contact the iliac crest. It’s only after side bending them away from the area of impingement that they notice a positive response.
The literature is very sparse in how we treat this. There are various types of interventional treatments such as intercostal nerve blocks, which can actually take away the sensation along that rib. One technique called radiofrequency ablation can potentially give 8 months to a year of relief.
Regarding spine pain and regenerative medicine:
When I was a resident in 2011, the treatment algorithm for spine pain was fairly limited. We had the anti-inflammatory medications, analgesics, like Tylenol, as well as the opioid type of medications for treatment. However, interventional or injection-based treatments were somewhat limited, and even today we’re limited mostly to epidural injections, trigger point injections, and facet steroid injections. Something that’s really been taking off, and I’m very happy to see that’s become more available to patients, is radiofrequency ablation. So now there’s a treatment in which we’re actually able to burn medial branch nerves to relieve pain that can potentially provide 8 months to possibly 2 years of low back pain and/or neck pain relief.
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