‘A great alternative for patients’: Southwest Spine & Pain offers a new way of treating chronic low back pain

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CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Southwest Spine & Pain Center is pleased to announce they are now offering Intracept, a new procedure designed to provide relief to people living with persistent, debilitating low back pain. 

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Filip_Krstic/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

“It’s certainly exciting for us and a great alternative for patients,” said Dr. Derek Frieden, a pain management specialist at Southwest Spine & Pain. “With the clinical data we have and how minimally invasive the procedure is, we feel like it’s a great option for a lot of our patients that have ongoing low back pain.”  

Intracept is indicated for patients over age 18 whose low back pain is chronic (persisting for at least six months) and vertebrogenic, meaning it originates from the bones in the spine. These individuals typically experience pain while standing or sitting for long durations and limited mobility that interferes with everyday activities.  

This type of pain was previously thought to originate within the spinal discs, Frieden said, but recent studies have shown it actually stems from vertebral end plates and is transmitted via the basivertebral nerve.

The causes are uncertain beyond normal wear and tear on the spine. In some cases, it may be genetic. Patients whose low back pain hasn’t responded to conservative care or interventional pain relief methods like injections are prime candidates for Intracept. The procedure is covered by Medicare and most private insurance.

Prior to Intracept, Frieden said the best option for patients suffering from discogenic low back pain that didn’t respond to treatment was spinal fusion. While not always effective, it was the only alternative available. 

Pain specialist Dr. Derek Frieden, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Southwest Spine & Pain Center, St. George News

Intracept is performed at a surgery center or hospital. The procedure typically lasts about 30 minutes, and the patient returns home the same day. 

Intracept is a relatively painless treatment, Frieden said. During the procedure, the physician makes a small incision to insert a probe into the vertebral body. The probe uses radiofrequency ablation to create a heat lesion on the bundle of nerve tissue within, effectively blocking pain signals from transmitting to the spinal cord. These nerves are unlike others in the body in that they don’t grow back, which enables Intracept to deliver long-term results. 

“If we ablate those nerves, we can provide greater than 75% pain relief for up to and beyond five years,” he said.  

In clinical trials, patients maintained a 65% reduction in pain and a 61% reduction in disability at the five-year mark. 

Only a handful of medical professionals nationwide are certified to perform the Intracept procedure. 

Southwest Spine & Pain is currently in the process of identifying eligible patients who will benefit from Intracept. Frieden said he looks forward to offering lasting pain relief to both local patients and those who come from as far away as Las Vegas or Page, Arizona.

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Frieden underwent fellowship training in interventional pain management at Harvard Medical Center. He has lived and practiced in the southern and central regions of Utah for the past 15 years, and previously served as the director of spine and pain medicine at the former Dixie Regional Medical Center. In addition to being a clinical research investigator, he specializes in the evaluation and treatment of spinal conditions and multiple pain disorders utilizing the latest technology, including image-guided minimally invasive procedures like Intracept.

Southwest Spine & Pain operates 15 health centers throughout Utah. They provide acute and chronic pain management services including injections, epidurals, radiofrequency ablations, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation and regenerative medicine, along with physical therapy and rehabilitation. All physicians have completed fellowship training and board certification in the treatment of acute and chronic pain. 

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

• S P O N S O R E D  C O N T E N T • 


  • Southwest Spine & Pain Center | Address: 652 S. Medical Center Drive, Suite 110 | Telephone 435-656-2424 | Website.
  • Other locations:
    • St. George – Red Hills: 301 N. 200 East, Suite 2A | Telephone: 435-688-7246.
    • St. George – Rheumatology Division: 1490 E. Foremaster Drive, Suite 220 | Telephone: 435-879-7610.
    • Hurricane: 25 N. 2000 West, Suite 8 | Telephone: 435-635-0174.
    • Cedar City: 1303 N. Main St. | Telephone: 435-586-2229.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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