Radiofrequency ablation, also known as RFA is a minimally invasive procedure performed in an outpatient clinic to treat neck, back, facet joints, and sacroiliac joint pain. It involves the use of radio waves pulsing at a high frequency that temporarily disable the nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain. Relief can last three to six months. Radiofrequency ablation treatment could be an option to manage chronic back and neck pain. There are other names, but the radio frequency concept is the same. They are:
Chronic neck, back, and hip pain take a significant toll on the body. Finding the right treatment can make all the difference. However, it does not work for everyone. For those that might have tried other non-surgical treatments to manage the pain, including physical therapy and steroid injections, that did not bring relief then radiofrequency ablation could be another treatment option.
Before undergoing radiofrequency ablation, a doctor must pinpoint the nerves causing the neck, back, or sacroiliac joint pain. They will perform a nerve block injection to determine if there is temporary relief from the pain. If there is temporary relief it means that the origin of the pain was found. This could qualify to become a candidate for radiofrequency ablation.
The doctor will give instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. Instructions can vary from those listed, as every patient’s case is unique.
Radiofrequency ablation usually takes an hour or longer depending on the extent of the treatment. One example could be the number of facet joints being treated.
The patient will be positioned face down on the treatment table. Pillows are offered and positioned for optimal comfort. The area where the treatment will be administered is sterilized. The areas of the body not undergoing the treatment are covered with a sterile covering. Sedation could be utilized but not heavy sedation. More than likely it will be what is known as twilight sedation.
A local anesthetic is injected into and around the area/s being treated. Because radiofrequency ablation involves electricity a grounding pad is attached to the calf of one of the legs. The treatment table is adjusted for the precise placement of the needles and electrodes. The doctor will use fluoroscopy or a real-time x-ray as a guide.
Once the needle/s and electrode/s placement is confirmed, a low electrical current is sent through the electrodes. This creates waves of pulsating energy that stimulate and change the nerve/s sensory tissue so it does not send pain signals. Some individuals report a warm or mild pulsing sensation. When finished, the electrodes and needles are removed. The treated area is cleaned up, sterilized and bandages are applied.
After the procedure, the patient is sent home with a set of recovery instructions. An example could be:
When the anesthetic wears off, the individual will have soreness and some mild pain around the treatment area. As long as everything is fine individuals can return to work and normal routine within three days. Full recovery can take up to two weeks for the treated/ablated nerves to stop sending pain signals. Although the nerves no longer conduct pain, it is temporary and not a permanent fix. This is because the nerves grow back. If the cycle starts over, talk with the doctor about another session.
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The information herein on "Radiofrequency Ablation Non-Surgical Minimally Invasive Treatment" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez DC or contact us at 915-850-0900.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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