28 May What Is Radiofrequency Abalation and How Does It Work?
Damaged nerves that continue to send signals to the brain cause chronic pain. One way to manage your pain is with radiofrequency ablation. This procedure is quick and noninvasive, helping you find relief from pain fast without creating any more damage. These frequencies can disrupt the pain signals being sent to your brain, switching off the response. If you are looking for a nonsurgical way to stop your chronic pain, radiofrequency ablation may be for you.
What Is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Radiofrequency ablation is also known as rhizotomy. It is a non-surgical procedure where radiofrequency waves are delivered to certain nerves, with the intention of interrupting pain signals to the brain. RFA is usually used to target pain from the facet joints, which can cause chronic pain in the neck or lower back, and the sacroiliac joints, which can contribute to chronic low back pain.
How Does It Work?
You should prepare to have someone drive you home after the procedure. If you have diabetes and use insulin, you must talk to your doctor about the dosage of insulin to take the day of the procedure. Bring your diabetes medication with you so you can take it after the procedure. If you take any blood thinning medications or antiplatelet medications, these must be stopped as well. Bring all medications with you so you can take them after the procedure because it’s very important for the doctor to know what you are taking. Because RFA is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require anesthesia, you can feel comfortable knowing you’ll be aware the whole time.
During the procedure, you will lie on your stomach, or for some neck procedures, on your side. You may have an IV so you can receive a sedative to relax you. Your doctor will numb a small area of skin around your spine with an anesthetic. The doctor will then use an X-ray to insert a special radiofrequency needle alongside the targeted nerves. To make sure they are in the right place, a small current is passed through a probe placed in the needle to the injured area. At this point, you may experience brief pain or a muscle twitch, which you will be warned of ahead of time.
Once the proper position is confirmed, you will get more numbing medication in the area. During the procedure, most patients feel either nothing or a mild warm sensation. The procedure may take one to two hours, depending on the treatment site and a number of treatments performed. You will be able to go home that day and rest.