Is Radiofrequency Ablation Right for Me?

Is Radiofrequency Ablation Right for Me?

When it comes to treating back pain, you’ve got options! From medication to physical therapy to spinal cord stimulation to radiofrequency ablation, our team of providers here at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center is happy to offer a wide variety of treatments to help you get the relief you need. 

In this blog, we highlight one treatment in particular: radiofrequency ablation.

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that combats pain by interfering with your nerve’s ability to send pain messages to your brain. Specifically, heat energy is targeted at specific nerves (medial and lateral branch nerves) that extend from your facet and sacroiliac joints. The heat damages the nerve so that the nerve no longer sends pain signals to your brain. This treatment doesn’t cure the underlying source of your pain, but it does help reduce pain, improve your quality of life, and help reduce your reliance on pain medication.

Is radiofrequency ablation right for you?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your pain, the team here at International Spine Pain & Performance Center may recommend radiofrequency ablation for you. This recommendation comes as a result of a physical exam, a review of your symptoms, and the results of diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or MRI.

Radiofrequency ablation might be right for you if:

Radiofrequency ablation isn’t limited to treating the nerves in the back. It can also treat peripheral nerve pain or pain in your knees or pelvis.

When radiofrequency ablation isn’t the answer

According to researchers, there are few contraindications for radiofrequency ablation. That being said, this procedure might not be right for you if you have a localized infection or if you have increased intracranial pressure. 

Additionally, this procedure might not be right for you if nerve pain isn’t the source of your pain. For example, if your pain is caused by a vertebrae fracture, you might instead benefit from kyphoplasty.

What is it like to receive radiofrequency ablation?

When researching your options, one of your main concerns is likely how complex the procedure is and how lengthy recovery is. Radiofrequency ablation is performed as a minimally invasive procedure, and it’s generally well tolerated. Minimally invasive procedures tend to require less downtime and cause less discomfort than open surgeries. 

During your procedure, you’ll stay relaxed and comfortable thanks to intravenous sedation. Next, a fluoroscopy (a real-time x-ray that provides moving images) provides the imagery needed for us to guide the radiofrequency ablation needle to the appropriate nerve. Once in place, radiofrequency energy releases heat to a specific malfunctioning nerve. There’s no need for incisions or stitches. 

Although you’ll need a friend or family member to drive you home (as the sedation effects wear off), you’ll be able to walk around immediately after your procedure.

To learn more about radiofrequency ablation and to find out if it’s right for you, call one of our three locations to schedule an appointment. Don’t forget: you can always request an appointment online 24/7.

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