Are you someone who is dealing with a persistent ache or sharp pain in your body that never seems to go away? This can be due to an injury, inflammation, illness or even nerve damage. Chronic pain is often ongoing and lasts for three months or longer. It can be a big burden that restricts movement and makes simple tasks like walking or standing hard. This isn’t just physical; often, this pain can take a toll on your mental health too. The worst part? Pain doesn’t take a break when it’s time to go to sleep. Many struggle to get restful sleep. So, you get tired and the pain worsens during the day.

Don’t lose hope if you are in a similar situation. Radiofrequency ablation therapy is a treatment for your chronic pain that can easily provide long-lasting relief. 

This article gives you all the information you need about radiofrequency ablation for pain management so that you can decide if this treatment is right for you.

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Also called a radiofrequency neurotomy, this is a medical procedure that helps with chronic pain by targeting specific nerves that transmit pain signals to the brain. 

A vein specialist from a vein treatment center uses radio waves to create a current that heats up a small region of the nerve tissue. This heat destroys that area of the nerve and stops it from sending pain signals to your brain. 

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can provide lasting relief to people with chronic pain, especially in the lower back, neck and arthritic joints. It can stop or reduce your chronic pain, improve your bodily function, reduce the number of pain medications you usually intake, or help you avoid or delay surgery.

This procedure is often considered minimally invasive and suggested as a treatment option when other methods, such as medications and physical therapy, haven’t provided sufficient relief.

How does radio frequency help with pain management within your spine?

Radiofrequency ablation is used to manage pain in your joints. But how does it exactly work?

Here’s a quick anatomy of your spine. There are several nerves that branch off from your spinal cord in your spine and travel to your facet joints and sacroiliac joints.

Facet joints are pairs of small joints between the vertebrae in your spine that are responsible for giving your joints flexibility, such as twisting and bending.

Here, sacroiliac joints are found near your spine’s bottom, right above your tailbone. Lateral branch nerves connected to these joints are responsible for sending pain signals from the spine to your brain.

As per the radiofrequency ablation procedure, the medial branch nerve in the facet joints or the lateral branch nerve in the sacroiliac joints are treated. By doing so, they aim to reduce the transmission of pain signals to your brain, providing relief from chronic pain.

What are the preparations before the radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedure?

If you are dealing with chronic pain and visit the vein treatment center, the healthcare professional will first review your medical history. And then they will ask about the pain.

If you are already taking prescribed aspirin or other blood-thinning medications, you may need to stop taking them for a few days before this procedure.

Next, to see and understand your anatomy and determine the level of arthritis or other spine injury, it will be recommended that you take X-rays or other imaging tests. 

To pinpoint the exact source and level of your pain, your doctor might do a test called a diagnostic block. During this test, they will inject a numbing medicine near the area that hurts. If you get significant relief from this injection, it’s a good sign that the RFA procedure will work for you. Otherwise, the RFA might not be the best option for you. 

What happens during a radiofrequency ablation procedure?

During the radiofrequency ablation therapy, you will be asked to lie on your stomach on a special X-ray table. Then, your healthcare provider will use monitors to analyze your condition during the procedure. 

Next, medication will be given during the procedure to relax you, but it’s optional. 

A local anesthetic is given to numb the area of your skin where a needle will be inserted.

Next, a thin needle is inserted into the area where you feel pain using a special kind of real-time continuous X-ray called fluoroscopy. 

Once the needle has reached the intended site, your doctor will do a test to confirm it’s in the right position. A microelectrode is sent via the hollow needle. You will feel a tingling sensation, which means the right location has been found for treatment.

Next, a radiofrequency current is sent through the needle to heat the affected nerve. This current destroys the nerve and stops it from sending pain signals to your brain.

During this procedure, more than one nerve can be treated. 

Who are the best candidates for radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation can help people dealing with chronic pain management, especially issues such as degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis and facet joint pain. 

If you suffer from any of these conditions or have at least symptoms relating to them, you may be a good candidate for radiofrequency ablation.

Also, if you are suffering from 

  • Joint pain in your hips, necks, and shoulders, 
  • Cancer pain
  • Facial pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • To kill tumor cells, you can undergo this treatment.

However, to qualify for radiofrequency ablation, you must have had chronic pain for more than six months and haven’t had any success with other medication and treatment methods. Radiofrequency ablation is the best.

If you are looking to get expert radiofrequency ablation treatment, visit this best vein treatment centre in Thousand Oaks.

Note: If you are pregnant, have an infection or have a bleeding problem, you aren’t eligible for radiofrequency ablation treatment.

What happens post radiofrequency ablation procedure?

The radiofrequency ablation procedure takes from 15 minutes to 2 hours to complete. This depends on the treatment location and the number of treatments performed. You may feel some pain or tenderness in the injection site post-procedure, as the area is already numb before the process starts. Usually, the pain subsides in a few days.

After your radiofrequency ablation procedure, you can go home. But someone must drive you home. It’s highly recommended to rest when you reach home. Avoid doing any strenuous work for 24 hours after the procedure.

Resume doing your normal activities after a day or two. 

You might feel soreness, pain or muscle spasms at the treatment site for a few days. Take the prescribed pain medication for the soreness and pain. If needed, apply an ice pack to the injection site, off and on for 20 minutes a few times during the first day of your recovery at home.

How long will pain relief last with radiofrequency ablation?

The main intention of this procedure is to relieve your chronic pain. Vein specialists from top vein treatment center say that patients will experience pain relief immediately for about four to six weeks, after the procedure.

But our invention will last for nine to twelve months. There are several cases where patients have had multiple years of pain relief after the radiofrequency ablation.

However, pain can return if the nerves regenerate. In that case, the procedure can be repeated on the same nerve if you have used it in the past for successful pain relief.

Is radiofrequency ablation effective?

Yes, radiofrequency ablation is effective for 99% of people. People experience pain relief after radiofrequency ablation but the amount differs based on the cause of pain and location.

For some, pain relief can be immediate. For others, it may take up to three weeks to settle. And pain relief can last from six months to twelve months. For some people, it lasts for years. Others may have only limited pain relief. The treated nerve can regrow but it usually takes at least six to twelve months after the procedure.

Is radiofrequency ablation a surgery?

No, it’s not considered surgery because it’s a minimally invasive procedure. This means you feel less pain, less risk of infection and other complications, a reduction in the length of your hospital stay and a quick recovery time. Usually, it’s performed using methods that first access your body’s condition with the least amount of damage or disruption to your skin and tissues.

Final Words

If your chronic pain persists despite trying other conservative treatments like medications, injections or physical therapy, it’s best you try radiofrequency ablation. However, it’s not you who can decide to undergo this procedure.

Consult with a vein specialist or pain management specialist who can assess your condition and medical history and do the appropriate tests to ensure if this procedure would work for you or not.

The Center for Vein Wellness is among the top vein treatment centres in Oxnard. If you want a professional treatment, feel free to visit for a consultation and let the experts decide if radiofrequency ablation can help handle your chronic pain.