↓ Skip to main content

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Radiofrequency denervation for chronic low back pain

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2015
Altmetric Badge

About this Attention Score

  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (93rd percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (72nd percentile)

Mentioned by

2 policy sources
34 X users
2 Facebook pages
2 Wikipedia pages
2 Google+ users


116 Dimensions

Readers on

309 Mendeley
Radiofrequency denervation for chronic low back pain
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2015
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd008572.pub2
Pubmed ID

Esther T Maas, Raymond WJG Ostelo, Leena Niemisto, Jukkapekka Jousimaa, Heikki Hurri, Antti Malmivaara, Maurits W van Tulder


Radiofrequency (RF) denervation, an invasive treatment for chronic low back pain (CLBP), is used most often for pain suspected to arise from facet joints, sacroiliac (SI) joints or discs. Many (uncontrolled) studies have shown substantial variation in its use between countries and continued uncertainty regarding its effectiveness. The objective of this review is to assess the effectiveness of RF denervation procedures for the treatment of patients with CLBP. The current review is an update of the review conducted in 2003. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, three other databases, two clinical trials registries and the reference lists of included studies from inception to May 2014 for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) fulfilling the inclusion criteria. We updated this search in June 2015, but we have not yet incorporated these results. We included RCTs of RF denervation for patients with CLBP who had a positive response to a diagnostic block or discography. We applied no language or date restrictions. Pairs of review authors independently selected RCTs, extracted data and assessed risk of bias (RoB) and clinical relevance using standardised forms. We performed meta-analyses with clinically homogeneous studies and assessed the quality of evidence for each outcome using the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. In total, we included 23 RCTs (N = 1309), 13 of which (56%) had low RoB. We included both men and women with a mean age of 50.6 years. We assessed the overall quality of the evidence as very low to moderate. Twelve studies examined suspected facet joint pain, five studies disc pain, two studies SI joint pain, two studies radicular CLBP, one study suspected radiating low back pain and one study CLBP with or without suspected radiation. Overall, moderate evidence suggests that facet joint RF denervation has a greater effect on pain compared with placebo over the short term (mean difference (MD) -1.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) -2.28 to -0.67). Low-quality evidence indicates that facet joint RF denervation is more effective than placebo for function over the short term (MD -5.53, 95% CI -8.66 to -2.40) and over the long term (MD -3.70, 95% CI -6.94 to -0.47). Evidence of very low to low quality shows that facet joint RF denervation is more effective for pain than steroid injections over the short (MD -2.23, 95% CI -2.38 to -2.08), intermediate (MD -2.13, 95% CI -3.45 to -0.81), and long term (MD -2.65, 95% CI -3.43 to -1.88). RF denervation used for disc pain produces conflicting results, with no effects for RF denervation compared with placebo over the short and intermediate term, and small effects for RF denervation over the long term for pain relief (MD -1.63, 95% CI -2.58 to -0.68) and improved function (MD -6.75, 95% CI -13.42 to -0.09). Lack of evidence of short-term effectiveness undermines the clinical plausibility of intermediate-term or long-term effectiveness. When RF denervation is used for SI joint pain, low-quality evidence reveals no differences from placebo in effects on pain (MD -2.12, 95% CI -5.45 to 1.21) and function (MD -14.06, 95% CI -30.42 to 2.30) over the short term, and one study shows a small effect on both pain and function over the intermediate term. RF denervation is an invasive procedure that can cause a variety of complications. The quality and size of original studies were inadequate to permit assessment of how often complications occur. The review authors found no high-quality evidence suggesting that RF denervation provides pain relief for patients with CLBP. Similarly, we identified no convincing evidence to show that this treatment improves function. Overall, the current evidence for RF denervation for CLBP is very low to moderate in quality; high-quality evidence is lacking. High-quality RCTs with larger patient samples are needed, as are data on long-term effects.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 34 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 309 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Spain 1 <1%
United States 1 <1%
Australia 1 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
Unknown 305 99%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 54 17%
Student > Bachelor 31 10%
Other 30 10%
Student > Ph. D. Student 26 8%
Researcher 25 8%
Other 58 19%
Unknown 85 28%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 132 43%
Nursing and Health Professions 19 6%
Psychology 13 4%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 6 2%
Neuroscience 6 2%
Other 33 11%
Unknown 100 32%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 31. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 03 September 2023.
All research outputs
of 26,150,873 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 13,188 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 296,209 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 299 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 26,150,873 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 94th percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 13,188 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 34.7. This one has done well, scoring higher than 80% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 296,209 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 299 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 72% of its contemporaries.