Scientists have devised a one-off procedure which they claim provides long-term relief long-term relief for sufferers.
The procedure can take as little as 10 minutes and is painless.
Last night the team behind the study said they were extremely excited by the results.
In tests the majority of patients were pain-free after receiving the “image-guided pulsed radio frequency treatment” for their lower back pain and sciatica.
Study lead investigator Dr Alessandro Napoli, a radiologist at Sapienza University in Italy, said: “The nerve root is a sensitive structure that when pinched becomes inflamed and causes pain. The body reacts with muscle constriction, which decreases the distance between vertebrae and a vicious cycle is created.”
Tests of the treatment were carried out on 80 patients experiencing at least three months of lower back pain due to a herniated disk that had not responded to treatments including exercise and medication.
The volunteers underwent the minimally invasive procedure in which, with the help of CT imaging, a needle was guided to the location of a bulging disc and nerve root.
A probe was then inserted through the needle tip delivering pulsed radio frequency energy to the area over a 10 minute period.
Dr Napoli said: “The results have been extraordinary. Patients have been relieved of pain and resumed their normal activities within a day.”
Of the 80 patients treated, 81 per cent were pain-free one year after a single 10-minute treatment session.
Six patients required a second pulsed radio frequency session.
Ninety per cent of the patients were able to avoid surgical treatment.
Dr Napoli added: “Following this treatment, inflammation and pain go away.”
Lower back pain is an extremely common problem that affects at least four out of five people at some point in their lifetime.
In the UK some two and half million people suffer agonising pain every single day.
It is the most common cause of job-related disability and affects men and women equally.
Most back pain is short-term but about one in five people affected by acute low back pain go on to develop chronic low back pain lasting a year or more.
A compressed and herniated disk, in which the rubbery cushion between vertebrae impinges on and irritates nearby nerves, is a major cause of low back pain that can radiate to the legs.
And experts say the condition has become an epidemic in the UK with back, neck and muscle problems causing millions of days of work to be lost each year, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The findings from the study are due to be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago, in the US, this week.