Radiofrequency neuroablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive intervention used to relieve pain by blocking the signal production of specific nerves. This procedure uses the heat produced by radiofrequency waves to target nerves and disrupt the signal transmission into the brain.
For patients with back and neck issues, radiofrequency neuroablation helps reduce the symptoms generated by conditions with prolonged symptoms, such as chronic lower back pain, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), sacroiliac joint pain, and peripheral neuropathy.
Compared to traditional surgery, radiofrequency neuroablation provides a less invasive treatment option with long-lasting results. It is an outpatient procedure allowing you to return to your regular activities within a matter of days with restored mobility and better quality of life.
At Spinal Diagnostics, we offer multiple cutting-edge technology pain management procedures, including radiofrequency neuroablation. Our experienced team of professionals aims to help you alleviate pain symptoms by providing a multidisciplinary approach to numerous back and neck pain conditions.
By using thermal lesions, radiofrequency neuroablation interrupts the transmission of pain signals from the nerves to the brain. This involves inserting a special needle into the targeted nerve area, generating heat-generated radiofrequency waves.
As the heat is applied, the nerve tissue becomes disrupted, leading to the blockage of pain signal communication. This procedure offers a long-term solution for managing the symptoms related to chronic pain conditions.
RFA is commonly used to help alleviate pain symptoms related to chronic conditions, such as:
- Chronic back pain: When back pain lasts over three months, it is considered a chronic condition. This type of chronic discomfort targets the lumbar region, including the back and legs.
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS): It is an illness characterized by debilitating pain that affects the limbs, usually your arms or legs. Still, it can spread to other body parts as it progresses. CRPS is a chronic condition usually caused by an injury followed by abnormal and prolonged pain that may include other signs like swelling, mobility limitations, sweating, and skin color or temperature changes.
- Sacroiliac joint pain: This is characterized by discomfort or pain in the sacroiliac joints. The sacroiliac joints are located in the lower back, connecting the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) to the ilium bones of the pelvis.
- Peripheral neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy affects the peripheral nerves located in the brain and spinal cord. These transmit signals from the nervous system to the body, allowing your limbs proper movement and balance.
Before the Procedure
Before your radiofrequency neuroablation procedure, it may be necessary to:
- Get your condition diagnosed by your doctor based on your medical history, symptoms, physical examination, and digital imaging that will help them determine if radiofrequency neuroablation is the ideal treatment for your case.
- Provide your doctor with relevant information regarding your medical history, including the medication you may be taking, any allergies, or medical conditions. This helps to ensure safety and optimal recovery during the whole process.
- Arrange transportation beforehand with a family member or close friend since driving right after the procedure is not recommended.
During the Procedure
During your radiofrequency neuroablation procedure, your doctor may perform the following steps:
- Anesthesia: Local anesthesia will be administered to numb the needle's insertion area.
- Needle placement: A small electrode needle will be carefully inserted through the skin and placed near the targeted nerves using digital imaging guidance.
- Sensory and motor stimulation test: Your doctor may perform a sensory and motor stimulation test to ensure correct needle placement. This is done by applying a low-level electrical current to the nerves that will cause a muscle twitch response.
- Radiofrequency lesioning: Radiofrequency waves will be delivered through the needle, generating heat once correctly placed. This will create a controlled lesion on the targeted nerves, blocking their ability to transmit pain signals. This process will be performed in all identified nerves.
- Injection site bandage: When the procedure has been completed, the needle will be removed, and a small bandage will be placed.
Procedure Recovery and Follow-Up
Your doctor will keep you under observation for a short period of time to ensure no immediate complications arise. Although you can go home the same day, it’s important to note that some temporary symptoms may appear after the treatment. These are normal and usually resolve on their own. These may include numbness, mild weakness, localized pain, and bruising.
Your doctor will provide specific instructions regarding activity restrictions, pain management, and any follow-up appointments you may need. The results of the procedure will start to manifest within a matter of days.
Radiofrequency neuroablation offers multiple benefits to patients with chronic pain symptoms and mobility limitations due to lumbar conditions. Some of the benefits include:
- Long-lasting pain relief: This procedure can significantly reduce or eliminate chronic pain by targeting and disrupting the nerves responsible for transmitting pain signals. The results can last for several months to years.
- Improved functionality and quality of life: With reduced pain, you can return to performing daily activities, exercising, and spending time with your loved ones.
- Avoidance of surgery and reduced reliance on pain medications: Radiofrequency neuroablation is a non-surgical alternative for managing chronic pain. This helps avoid the risks in complex surgical procedures and minimizes potential side effects. Besides, the need for the usage of opioid drugs is significantly reduced.