Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat chronic neck, back, and arthritic pain. The technique uses radio waves to heat up painful nerves and burn (ablate) the tissues, preventing the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. It’s a safe and nonsurgical treatment option for patients suffering from long-term neck, low back, sacroiliac, or spinal joint pain.
Before recommending RFA, your doctor will recommend a diagnostic nerve block to determine if you’re a good candidate. A nerve block is an injection containing numbing medications that will be administered near the painful nerve or group of nerves. If the injection relieves your pain, that indicates you’ll be a good candidate to experience pain relief from RFA.
At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, we perform RFA as an outpatient procedure so that you can return home the same day. To begin, you’ll be asked to lie on your stomach and the doctor will administer a local anesthetic around the affected area. You’ll be awake and aware throughout the procedure. Your surgeon will make an incision over the numbed area and insert a thin, hollow needle. Using an X-ray device called a fluoroscope, your surgeon will guide the needle to the pain-causing nerve or group of nerves. Then, a microelectrode and a small amount of electrical current are inserted down the needle and used to heat and burn the nerve tissues. You may feel a little pressure or minor discomfort during the process, but no pain. Once the procedure is over, the needle is removed and a bandage is placed over your incision. The entire process usually takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to complete.
RFA is a minimally invasive procedure, which means it has fewer risks than open surgery and requires less downtime and recovery time.You’ll be able to walk around and leave soon after your treatment, but someone will need to drive you home. Our staff will give you specific instructions to help aid your recovery. You may experience some soreness and discomfort at the injection site following the procedure.
If the treatment is successful, you’ll begin to feel pain relief over the next several days or weeks. Many patients experience pain relief for several months or longer. Many people experience relief for 6-12 months, while others experience relief for up to two years. Keep in mind that it’s possible for the burned nerve tissues to regrow. If regrowth occurs, the RFA procedure can be repeated.
We encourage you to learn more about minimally invasive surgery and the benefits here:
At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, we specialize in identifying, diagnosing and treating a wide range of acute and chronic back, spine and joint conditions. If you’re experiencing back or joint pain, weakness, or a loss of mobility, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation with our team. We provide compassionate and comprehensive care to help you find relief from pain and get back to doing the activities you love.
Call us at 904-456-0017 or contact us online to request an appointment.