for people ages 18-90 (full criteria)
Healthy Volunteers
healthy people welcome
at Davis, California
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by David Copenhaver, MD



The purpose of this study is to test the efficacy of radiofrequency ablation of the medial branch nerves (RFA-MBN) in relieving pain and improving physical function in patients with subacute and chronic vertebral compression fractures (VCF).

Official Title

Radiofrequency Ablation of the Medial Branch Nerve as a Novel Treatment for Posterior Element Pain From Vertebral Compression Fractures


The study examines a novel approach to treat pain associated with VCFs. The usual care therapy currently involves utilizing physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, opioids, and bone re-building medications known as bisphosphonates. A usual treatment plan may include some, if not all the above. There is growing evidence that the posterior spinal elements contribute to pain that patients with VCFs experience. RFA-MBN, which targets these posterior spinal elements, may provide more sustained pain relief and improved physical function compared to usual care for these fractures. The procedure essentially "ablates with heat" the medial branch nerves which send pain signals from the posterior elements to the brain.

Patients will be randomly selected into one of two groups. The treatment group will receive the RFA-MBN procedure along with usual care therapy. The control group will undergo usual care. The control group will have the option to cross over to receive RFA-MBN at a defined interval during the study. There will be follow up visits at various intervals to compare pain relief and function based on various surveys of the treatment, control, and cross-over groups.


Vertebral Compression Fracture, Facet Joint Pain, Arthralgia, Bone Fractures, Compression Fractures, Acetaminophen, Diphosphonates, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Radiofrequency ablation of the medial branch nerves, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Bisphosphonates, Physical therapy, Opioids


For people ages 18-90

I• Inclusion

  • 18-90 years old
  • Male or female
  • Age of fracture greater than or equal to 6 weeks
  • Single Level Vertebral Compression Fracture
  • Vertebral compression fracture Thoraic-9 to Lumbar-5
  • NRS >6/10

    • Exclusion

  • <18 or >90 yo
  • Uncorrectable Coagulopathy
  • Multiple Level Vertebral Compression Fractures
  • Surgery within 60 days of presentation
  • Active infection
  • Rhuematologic disease
  • Significant neurologic deficit
  • Radicular pain
  • Chronic low back pain in last year
  • Inability to give consent
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Patients with Ongoing Litigation or Worker's Compensation Cases


  • UC Davis Medical Center
    Davis California 95817 United States

Lead Scientist at UC Davis

  • David Copenhaver, MD
    Associate Professor, Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, School of Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 16 research publications


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, Davis
Learn more or sign up for the study here! Sign up for this study
Phase 4 research study
Study Type
Expecting 60 study participants
Last Updated