A radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that stops the nerves carrying pain signals to the brain. It can provide relief to the people with chronic pain, especially in the lower back and neck. Especially patients who have got good results with nerve root block injections are the best candidate for radiofrequency ablation treatment for back and neck pain. Also they are the patients who will get the best results in this procedure as well. This procedure is most commonly used to treat chronic pain and conditions such as arthritis of the spine and sacroilitis. It is also used to treat neck and back pain. It is a good treatment for patient who are not willing to undergo surgical treatment.
Radiofrequency ablation is performed by a spine specialist under local anaesthesia. If patient is on blood thinners then it has to be stopped before the procedure. Also it has to be noted since the procedure is performed under the x-ray guidance hence the pregnant women should not be adminstered. The procedure takes about 30 to 90 mins and is generally done on OPD basis. Patient remains awake during the procedure and hardly feels any discomfort. Once the needle is inserted, the patient receives an anesthetic medication. Then a radiofrequency current is passed through the hollow needle to create a small and precise burn, called a lesion. The current destroys the portion of the nerve that transmits pain and disrupts the pain-producing signal. The burn takes approximately 90 seconds for each site, and multiple nerves can be burned at the same time.
Patients may experience pain from the procedure for up to 14 days, but this is generally due to the residual effects of the nerve ablation or muscle spasm. Pain relief is typically experienced within 10 days, although relief may be immediate for some patients and take up to three weeks for others. Patients should schedule a follow-up appointment with the spine specialist after the procedure to address any concerns that the patient may have.
Pain relief may last from 9 months to more than 2 years. It is possible the nerve will regrow through the burned lesion that was created by radiofrequency ablation. If the nerve regrows, it is usually 6-12 months after the procedure. Radiofrequency ablation is 70-80% effective in people who have successful nerve blocks. The procedure can be repeated if needed.
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My team of professionals will patiently hear to your complaints, do a thorough examination and would order investigations only to confirm the clinical diagnosis when in doubt. Most of the problems of spine would be treated conservatively if the patients comes to us in time.
Dr. Sudeep Jain, MCh
Lead Spine Surgeon
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