Radiofrequency Ablation

Pain in the neck and back have become a common problem for many. Now and then you may see your friends, family, or colleagues complaining of severe pain in the neck and back, especially in the lower back.

What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Recurring pain in your neck or back makes it impossible for you to do day-to-day activities with ease. If you have pain in your back and neck, and a nerve block injection has given you some relief, then Radiofrequency Ablation is a solution for you.

Radiofrequency ablation and Radiofrequency neurotomy are used interchangeably. Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to reduce pain. In this procedure, a lesion is created using heat on certain nerves in the facet joint and sacroiliac joint. The treatment uses the heat generated from medium frequency alternating current to destroy the nerve fibers carrying pain signals to your brain.

What Types of Radiofrequency Ablation Exist?

There are two primary types of radiofrequency ablation:

  • Medial branch ablation affects the nerves carrying pain from the facet joints, these are the joints in your spine that make your back flexible.
  • Lateral branch ablation affects nerves that carry pain from the sacroiliac joints, the joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis connected by strong ligaments.

As these nerves do not control any muscles or sensation, a heat lesion poses little or no danger of negatively affecting those areas.

What is the Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment Procedure Like?

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure. It is done under local anesthesia and mild sedation. At The Pain, Spine and Sports Institute, it is performed under live X-ray for guidance. The radiofrequency ablation procedure includes the following steps:

  • Dr. Ali will review your medical history. You will be asked about your allergies and present medications.
  • Based on your medical history, Dr. Ali will prohibit the use of certain medications like aspirin, blood thinners and such, several days before the procedure.
  • You will lie on the X-ray table, and the area being treated will be numbed using local anesthesia. You may also be given a mild sedative using an intravenous line.
  • Under the guidance of fluoroscopy/live X-ray, a special needle is directed alongside the medial or lateral branch nerves in your joints.
  • Once the needle is in place, a small amount of electrical current is carefully passed through the needle to assure it is next to the targeted nerve. This current recreates the usual pain and causes your muscle to twitch in the neck or back.
  • Radiofrequency current is passed through the needle to create a lesion in the targeted nerve to disrupt the nerve’s ability to send pain signals to your brain. Multiple nerves can be targeted at the same time.

When is Radiofrequency Ablation used?

Radiofrequency ablation can benefit you in many ways. Apart from pain management, there are several uses for radiofrequency ablation which you can receive at The Pain, Spine and Sports Institute. Here are some areas of application:

  • It is used to treat chronic lower back and neck pain and pain related to the degeneration of joints from arthritis.
  • It is helpful to treat tumors in the lung, kidney, liver, bone and other organs.
  • It is used to destroy abnormal electrical pathways that contribute to cardiac arrhythmia.
  • It helps in treating skin lesions with minimal side effects and complications. 
  • It is used in the treatment of varicose veins.

If you would like to find out more about Radiofrequency Ablation, or schedule a consultation with Dr. Ali, Please feel free to give us a call or fill our the form provided and we will get back to you shortly.


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