Radiofrequency Neuroablation: What to Expect
Chronic neck and back pain can be a hindrance in living a happy and active life. You have probably tried a lot of treatments and may still be experiencing this severe pain.
If that is the case, it is time for you to try Radiofrequency Neuroablation.
In this post, we will understand what this treatment is, the prior requirements, and the procedure. We will also learn what to expect after radiofrequency ablation.
What is radiofrequency ablation?
Before we understand what radiofrequency ablation is, let us understand why you are experiencing pain.
Why are you experiencing pain?
There are several bony parts that make up your backbone or spine or vertebral column. These bony structures are called vertebrae.
There is a small set of joints called the facet joints that connect all the vertebrae to form your spine. The facet joints contain a lot of nerve roots. You know what nerves do right? They send signals to the brain.
Any damage to the facet joints leads to a lot of pain, the reason being the presence of nerve roots that send pain signals to the brain.
Usually, the facet joints that are more prone to degeneration are present in the lower back and the neck. That is why most of us are always troubled by lower back (lumbar) and neck (cervical) pain frequently. Normal activities like bending or working on a laptop can cause lumbar facet joint pain and cervical (neck) facet joint pain.
So what makes you feel pain? The nerve tissue. This means if we remove the nerve tissue we will not experience any pain. This is exactly what radiofrequency ablation does.
With radiofrequency ablation treatment, we melt down the nerves transmitting pain signals to the brain, hence decreasing the pain signals. This gives you full pain relief that can last for more than just a few years. A thin needle and the heat generated through radiofrequency are used to carry out this treatment. It is a non-surgical treatment so patients can usually go home the same day.
What to expect before the treatment?
First and foremost, your doctor will determine whether you are eligible for the treatment or not. To guarantee that the correct nerve group is being targeted, two diagnostic medial branch nerve block injections are usually used. After that, you will be instructed to refrain from using ice or other pain relievers. You may be suitable for a radiofrequency ablation if your back or neck pain improves after your medical branch blocks.
Besides that, the physicians will check to see whether you have any anesthetic allergies or any other condition that may disqualify you from receiving this therapy. You may also be asked to stop consuming certain medicines like blood thinning meds a few days before the procedure.
Your vital indicators, such as temperature and pulse rate will be monitored by the medical team prior to the treatment. You'll be allowed to undergo the treatment as long as your vitals are in the normal range.
You may even be asked to sign consent forms as a formality.
We strongly encourage you to seek professional medical advice to check if you are eligible for this treatment.
What to expect during the treatment?
You will be asked to remove any metal ornaments on your body. Once basic things are taken care of an IV line would be placed to give mild sedative for relaxing your body. You will be given local anesthesia so that you don't feel pain while the treatment happens.
The doctors will insert a thin needle or a pipe called a cannula at the exact target area by referring to X-ray guidance. Once the needle is placed well we start emitting radiofrequency to melt the vein. The needle is removed after completing the treatment.
It is a painless process but you might feel some tingling sensation. It takes about 30 minutes. on average. It is a simple process with very few associated complications.
What to expect after the treatment?
You'll be sent to a recovery room and monitored for about an hour following RFA. Your vital signs and blood pressure will be monitored during that time. Before permitting you to depart, doctors will check for any adverse effects, such as allergic reactions.
You might feel some pain or irritation at the injection site, you would be advised to apply ice or to take some pain medication. If discomfort persists you may consult the doctor, it is not recommended to take any medicine on your own.
You would be advised to take it easy for the day after the procedure. No rigorous activities are allowed.
Mild pain might be observed for a few days post RFA, but this pain is generally well tolerated by most patients.
Because of the pain that you were experiencing for years, your body gets used to not doing heavy activities, but building strength is important, and post RFA, you can do it without any pain. So for building strength, you may be advised some physical therapy.
There is a minute risk involved in this procedure. It might lead to bleeding problems in the surrounding tissue while inserting the needle. Chances of active infections are there as well, but these risks are very rare.
Chronic pain can make it difficult to move around. It might be tough to figure out what's causing your pain and how to manage it properly, but pain management treatments can help.
Radiofrequency ablation is a treatment that provides relief from chronic pain. Most of us experience pain in the lumbar facet joints and the cervical facet joints, and both can be treated using RFA. Many patients treated with radiofrequency ablation have experienced lasting relief from pain.
Is radiofrequency ablation safe? Yes, it is very much safe to do, and it is safe to repeat the procedure, if required in the future.
We strongly recommend seeing a doctor find solutions for your pain-related issues. Taking medicines and pain killers without consultation can increase the pain and lead to severe repercussions in the long run.