What is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Radiofrequency nerve ablation (RFA) is a procedure designed to treat chronic neck, back, and joint pain. RFA uses heat generated by radio waves to ablate (burn) the nerves that are transmitting pain signals to the brain.
RFA is also known as rhizotomy, and can be an excellent choice for managing pain caused by arthritis.
RFA provides pain relief for at least 6 months, and lasting up to one year. With RFA, many patients can return to work, engage in their favorite activities, and life a pain-free life without the need for surgery.
RFA is a minimally-invasive procedure that takes from 30 to 60 minutes. You may return home following the procedure, but you will need to arrange a ride with a trusted adult. Avoid any strenuous activities until the next day.
You’ll be given a low-dose sedative to relax you during the procedure. RFA may be performed on one or more nerves, depending on your condition.
How Does Nerve Ablation Work?
Using X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy), your doctor will insert a special needle into the targeted nerves. A local anesthetic will numb the nerves to minimize discomfort during the nerve heating.
When the nerves are numbed, the doctor will switch on the radiofrequency waves, emitted from the tip of the needle. The radio waves heat the nerve, creating a heat lesion. This heat lesion stops pain signals from being transmitted through the nerve on its way to your brain.
What to Expect After Radiofrequency Ablation
Typically, RFA does not provide immediate pain relief. The local anesthetic will numb the area for the duration of the procedure, but when it wears off, you may experience some discomfort.
RFA will “kill” the targeted nerve, but the dying process can take up to 14 days, after which you will see a significant reduction in pain, lasting 6-12 months.
Some patients feel a superficial, “sunburn-like” sensation in the treated area. This may last for a week or two, following ablation. After that, the area may feel a little numb. Soreness after the procedure can be treated with cold packs or heating pads.
What Conditions does RFA Treat?
Radiofrequency nerve ablation is a safe, effective, and non-surgical treatment for many chronic pain conditions, including:
- Spine arthritis (spondylosis)
- Neck and back pain
- Knee pain
- Pain due to osteoarthritis
- Pelvic pain
- Peripheral nerve pain
Radiofrequency Ablation at Nuvo Spine
The expert care team at Nuvo Spine is committed to providing you with comprehensive, compassionate care. When you meet with our board-certified, award-winning physician, he will conduct a thorough assessment, identify the origins of your pain, and present you with your available treatment options.
Our team is highly specialized to treat and manage chronic pain. Call our offices today and find out what Nuvo Spine can do for you.