Has your doctor or pain specialist suggested radiofrequency ablation to help alleviate your lower back pain?

Many pain specialists are recommending radiofrequency ablation for patients due to the high success rate and measurable results.

Before you schedule your next appointment it is a good idea to understand the process and how it can really help you. First, what is radiofrequency ablation? The procedure has a long history and has been used effectively since 1931. It is a non-surgical treatment that disrupts the nerve functions in the affected area to stop painful sensation experienced by the patient. It can be done as an outpatient procedure with only local anesthetic. 

A pain specialist uses an electrical current to create a localized heat that deadens the nerves and reduces the sensation of pain in the patient. To do this, an electrode is inserted into the affected area with a small needle-like tube using fluoroscopic assistance to determine the right placement. Once it is in place, the physician will use a high frequency electrical current to destroy the affected nerves with a continuous current or with pulsed radiation for shorter bursts followed by breaks. While pain relief may last longer with continuous current radiofrequency ablation (up to two years), the risk of complications is increased which is why many physicians prefer pulsed radiofrequency. 

Heat from the electrical impulse is what disrupts the nerve sensors in your lower back or other affected area to reduce pain.

Radiofrequency ablation can be done in an outpatient setting and it is a very precise and repeatable process. Immediately following the procedure, patients are monitored for possible side effects. Soreness and weakness are common so it is best to rest and recuperate fully before returning to normal activities. It may still take up to a month for these affected nerves to completely die off.

It is important to have a comfort level about the procedure before you arrive. Talk with your specialist about the steps involved and what to expect and make a point to ask any further questions that you may have about the procedure. 

Have you considered radiofrequency ablation to help your back pain?

Image by rana ossama via Flickr

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