Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is recommended for patients with chronic pain that has not been resolved by conservative measures, such as anti-inflammatory medication, chiropractic adjustments, or physical therapy. Your Integrated Pain Management physician can consult with you on your candidacy for RFA as a pain management solution.
What is radiofrequency ablation?
RFA is a pain-management procedure that applies concentrated heat energy to the source of pain-transmitting nerves, which eliminates the source of chronic pain.
Will RFA help me?
RFA alleviates pain in various parts of the body, and it is especially helpful to patients with spinal injuries and back pain. Conditions treated with RFA include:
- Neuropathic pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Peripheral nerve entrapment
- Pain from degenerative discs
- Spinal arthritis
- Pain after spinal surgery
How does it work?
RFA is minimally invasive, and the procedure is performed with a local anesthetic. The procedure length ranges from 20 minutes to an hour. When you and your physician decide that RFA is the best pain-management solution for you, your physician will perform a diagnostic nerve block test. This test will measure how responsive your nerves are to blockage. Patients who experience pain relief during the diagnostic nerve block test are considered good candidates for the RFA procedure.
A fluoroscopic resource, such as X-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound, guides the RF probe to the nerve site. Nerves sit under skin and muscle, and the physician makes a small incision on the targeted area to insert the probe. Patients receive a local anesthetic to manage any discomfort. Once the probe is in place, it sends targeted heat to the nerve path, destroying it. Once treated with RFA, the nerve path no longer transmits the pain signal to the brain, which eliminates pain.
How long will it take to recover, and how long does it last?
Many patients who undergo RFA procedures are home the same day as the procedure. We recommend that you rest one or two days following your procedure. Patients may experience muscle soreness, which can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and ice packs.
Many patients experience pain relief immediately after an RFA procedure; however, the duration of the relief varies from case to case. Patients report relief for up to 18 months after RFA. Others report pain remission ranging from 3 to 12 months.
RFA alleviates pain in various parts of the body and is especially helpful if you have a spinal injury and back pain. Since each case is different, consult the specifics of your case with your Integrated Pain Management physician to determine if RFA is the best treatment option for you.