Radiofrequency Ablation

What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation is an advanced treatment that could reduce certain types of chronic pain. Pacific Sports and Spine uses radiofrequency ablation to help patients suffering from persistent pain that isn’t responding to conservative therapies.

The treatment involves the use of radiofrequency energy to generate heat. This heat reaches the precise temperature necessary to damage nerve endings in the target area but causes no harm to the surrounding tissues.

Medtronic Radio frequency ablation

What conditions are treatable with radio frequency?

Radiofrequency ablation is most often a treatment for back, neck, and joint pain. Spinal conditions that are treatable using this treatment include:

  • Neck or lower back arthritis 
  • Cervicogenic headaches
  • SI joint pain

Other chronic pain conditions that this radiofrequency can treat include arthritis in large joints like your hips, shoulders and knees occipital neuralgia (nerve-related head pain).

What does radiofrequency ablation involve?

Radiofrequency ablation treatments at Pacific Sports and Spine are typically outpatient procedures that don’t require an overnight hospital stay.

You need a sedative to make sure you stay relaxed and calm throughout the procedure, which may come in the form of oral sedation or through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. You also receive an injection of a local anesthetic in the treatment area so you won’t feel any discomfort.

Next, your provider inserts a fine needle into the tissues, using moving X-ray technology known as fluoroscopy that enables them to see where the needle’s going. When the needle is in position, your provider inserts a tiny electrode.

At this point, you should feel a tingling sensation, which shows the electrode is situated correctly. Your provider can now deliver the radiofrequency energy into the electrode, which heats your nerve endings.

What happends after my radiofrequency ablation?

After your radiofrequency ablation treatment at Pacific Sports and Spine, you go to the recovery suite for observation while your sedative wears off. Once you’re fully awake and aware, you can go home, however, you should arrange for a ride ahead of time. You shouldn’t drive on the day of your treatment.

Radiofrequency ablation treatment tends to start taking effect after a week or two, but can take up to 6 weeks for maximal relief. The results are variable, so some patients may experience only a little relief, while others notice a significant improvement.

The effects of this treatment last an average of 6-12 months, but you could benefit for far longer. Some people continue to appreciate a reduction in their pain for years after radiofrequency ablation. The procedure is also repeatable when pain returns.

To determine whether radiofrequency ablation could reduce your chronic pain, call Pacific Sports & Spine today.