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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Radio Wave Treatment Relieves Pain From Whiplash for More Than a Year

December 05, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

Zapping nerves in the neck with radio waves can temporarily relieve the pain of whiplash, Australian doctors report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers found that the three-hour treatment, called percutaneous radio-frequency neurotomy, could make the pain go away for more than a year. Eventually, though, the procedure had to be repeated when the nerves grew back.

Whiplash is an injury to the neck portion of the spine that happens when the head is violently bent forward and backward. A group from the University of Newcastle treated 12 whiplash victims with the technique and 12 with a fake procedure. After 27 weeks, eight of the 12 getting the real treatment were completely free of pain, compared to only one of those in the untreated comparison group.

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