Radiofrequency ablation disables a nerve’s pain signaling abilities, which can ease chronic pain for as long as a couple of years. At Michigan Advanced Surgical Center, PLLC, board-certified physician Martin Quiroga, DO, and the team offer radiofrequency ablation as a solution for chronic pain that doesn’t improve with conservative care. The minimally invasive procedure can relieve pain by up to 86% in some parts of the spine. Learn more by calling the Warren, Michigan, office.
Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that destroys specific pain-causing nerves using controlled radiofrequency energy. The minimally invasive procedure interrupts the pain signaling process in a specific problem area, which, in turn, eases your pain and improves your ability to function.
You could be a good candidate for radiofrequency ablation if you have stubborn pain in your back, neck, or other areas. Some of the most common areas for radiofrequency ablation are the facet joints and sacroiliac (SI) joints in the spine.
The best way to know whether radiofrequency ablation will work for you is a nerve block. A nerve block places an anesthetic into the particular nerve that's likely causing your pain. Nerve blocks work right away, so you quickly know whether the targeted nerve or group of nerves causes your pain.
A successful nerve block is generally a good predictor of the effectiveness of radiofrequency ablation.
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure. You usually won't receive anesthesia before the procedure but may receive a sedative. During the procedure, the team uses fluoroscopic imaging — a live X-ray image — to guide a hollow needle (a cannula) into position near your nerve.
A thin probe, inserted into the cannula, sends a tiny burst of energy into the nerve to verify the proper placement. The team discusses your reaction with you at that time. You likely have a brief pain or pressure sensation.
After confirming the probe placement, additional radiofrequency energy creates a small heat lesion (about as big as the tip of a cotton swab) on the nerve.
Heat lesioning is a quick process, taking just about a minute-and-a-half for each nerve or group of nerves.
Most people achieve pain relief within 1-3 weeks of their radiofrequency ablation. The level of pain relief can vary with the treatment area and the cause of your pain, but most people achieve significant (at least 50%) pain relief.
Combining radiofrequency ablation with other approaches, such as physical therapy, can improve your results even more.
Your nerve does grow back slowly over time, so pain relief isn't permanent. On average, pain relief can last for anywhere from six months to longer than two years.
Call Michigan Advanced Surgical Center, PLLC, to arrange your consultation for radiofrequency ablation.