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Check us out in the news: Lowell General Hospital offers new approach to chronic low back pain

What is Intracept?

  • Intracept is a minimally invasive procedure for certain types of low back pain.
  • Back pain treated by this procedure is typically worse in the morning and can also be worse bending over forward.
  • Many candidates for Intracept will say they’ve tried “all the procedures” for back pain and nothing has worked yet.

Who is a candidate?

  • People with low back pain who have specific types of changes on their MRI called “modic changes.” These changes can be seen when your provider looks at your vertebrae (the bones of your spine) on an MRI.
  • These are changes that occur because of inflammation. You can imagine that if an area is repeatedly exposed to inflammation it can be painful and can actually be damaged. When your provider sees modic changes on your MRI (red arrows on left image below), this is what it means. Below, on the right, you can see an illustration of what a degenerated or damaged disc might look like.
  • When there is inflammation, a nerve called the basivertebral nerve can be irritated and cause your pain. This nerve can be burned or “ablated” during the Intracept procedure.
  • The procedure is done in the operating room with sedation. You will be able to go home the same day as your procedure.
  • If successful, the relief from this procedure can last years or even be permanent.


  • Most people can walk around immediately after. You will be monitored for a period of time and you will need a ride home.
  • Mild bruising and soreness around the injection site may occur. 
    • Applying ice for a few days may reduce inflammation and pain
    • Continue to take your regular pain medication
  • It may take up to a month to notice a result from the injection


  • Risks, although rare, including infection, bleeding, leg pain (“radiculitis”), nerve damage, fracture, or flare of your pain.