Back surgery is more common than a person might think and while it fixes what ails the person most times, there are times when a person is left with back pain, sometimes worse than what they had before the surgery. For those people life can be difficult. Pain Management Doctors can help they have many treatments to offer, but we’re going to look at just one RFA or Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency Ablation is a revolutionary treatment in its ability to relieve long term
chronic back pain and neck pain. It is also called neurotomy, radiofrequency, medial branch rhizotomy, radiofrequecy lesioning and RFA.
Thermal heat is applied by radiofrequency to deaden the miniscule nerve endings that are responsible for the signal coming from the painful joint. It’s one of the top five methods pain management doctors use.
RFA for Treating Back Pain
There are number of applications where RFA is used, but lumbar spine to alleviate the patients chronic low back pain is one of the main uses. Research has also shown that the radiofrequency neurotomy of the sacroiliac joint. Another study conducted by the American Academy of Pain Medicine learned that 50 percent of the patients receiving RFA were still pain free 3-6 months later.
How Radiofrequency is Performed
The RFA procedure is an outpatient procedure. Pain management doctors sometimes will use an IV sedation prior to the procedure, while other doctors will use a numbing cream and still others will simply administer a Valium before treatment.
Most pain management doctors will use fluoroscopy for this procedure, which is like a real time x-ray so that doctors can be sure they are placing the needle correctly.
The pain management doctors then place the needles in the positions they need to be and once the needles are in the correct positions the contrast is injected to make sure needles are positioned correctly.
Finally, the needle tips are heated for the required time. The temperature and the timeframe are going to vary and your doctor will make the final determinations, but typically, the heat is 80°C for around 90 seconds.
The risks associated with radiofrequency are small but nevertheless they do exist. There is a small risk of bleeding and/or infection. If you use blood thinners, they should be stopped prior to your surgery. Your doctor will specify when. Your Pain Management Doctors will also specify what other medications you will need to stop taking.
There is also a small risk that during the procedure the nerve root becomes damaged. This is why doctors do this pre-test before the heat is dispersed.
There is also the risk that the procedure simply won’t work. Sometimes doctors will do a medial branch block, which is a numbing medication, to test whether the radiofrequency ablation procedure is likely to be a success. If the medial branch block works then there is a 50% to 80% chance that the RFA treatment will also work.
If you have headaches, neck pain, chronic Back Pain, pain after back surgery or a number of other chronic pains the radiofrequency ablation procedure may be right for you. Talk to your pain management doctors.