What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

back pain

Radiofrequency ablation (or RFA) is a medical approach to reduce pain by using radio waves that create electrical current-induced heat. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Radiofrequency ablation utilizes an electric current to heat a small area of nerve tissue to stop it from sending pain signals.” When the heat is applied to damaged nerves that often cause pain, the process will disrupt pain signal transmission to the brain. 

As a minimally invasive procedure in several different conditions, the heat can be applied in a pulsatile manner or continuously for a semi-permanent inhibition of nerve function. After treatment, patients generally report dramatic pain relief. 

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 Radiofrequency Ablation & Chronic Pain

Early research on radiofrequency ablation focused mainly on facet joint pain in the lower back or lumbar region. However, clinical suggest proved that this technique could be utilized to decrease the size of tumors and bone spurs. As the application use expanded, it proved effective for a wider variety of other health-related issues.  

Also known as rhizotomy, this non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure helps support patients with pain conditions like arthritis of the spine and sacroiliitis. Below is a more comprehensive list of conditions that have been successfully treated with this treatment:

  • Arthritic pain
  • Lumbar facet joint pain
  • Neck pain (cervical facet pain)
  • Herniated intervertebral disc (dorsal root ganglion)
  • Sacroiliac joint complex (lower back pain)
  • Atypical facial pain 
  • Chronic headaches 
  • Sympathetic ganglia
  • Trigeminal neuralgia (trigeminal ganglion)

In addition to dramatic pain relief, patients choose radiofrequency ablation due to the convenience of the procedure. 

Some of the benefits of radiofrequency ablation may include:

  • No surgery
  • Little to no recovery time
  • Immediate pain relief
  • Decreased need for pain pills
  • Improved function
  • Quicker return to work (and other activities

What if the treatment doesn’t work?

If the patient only feels minimal relief from the radiofrequency ablation treatment, it’s possible to repeat after two or three weeks. Typically, the nerves targeted during treatment will regrow by 6-18 months, but pain encountered before treatment will not. Sometimes, mild discomfort may return but is minimal. 

In addition, patients who start physical therapy after radiofrequency ablation treatment and remain physically active have a higher chance of maintaining lower pain levels and benefit from increased muscle strength. Nonetheless, if the candidate feels significant pain return, another ablation can occur safely. 

Who’s a good candidate?

You may be a good candidate if you’ve experienced successful pain relief after receiving pain Nerve block injections. Additionally, if you suffer from chronic pain that isn’t responding to other treatments, radiofrequency ablation may be right for you. It’s a good idea to speak to a pain professional about it. 

Call us today

If you have not found relief in other pain treatments, we want you to reach out to our clinic today to discuss radiofrequency ablation with one of our pain clinic professionals. Here, we’ll guide you through the process. 

To schedule a consultation at Arthritis Relief Institute, call our clinic number at (972) 430-7564 or fill out our contact form. You will be contacted by our compassionate team of experts, who are then happy to talk you through the process of becoming a patient.