All About Radiofrequency Ablation

All About Radiofrequency Ablation

There are a multitude of treatments when you’re suffering from neck or back pain. From physical therapy to prescription medications, the conservative options are numerous. But what happens when your pain continues after these treatments? Radiofrequency ablation is a therapy that can manage your pain long-term.

At Delmarva Pain and Spine Center in Newark, Delaware, our team excels in pain management for many different disorders. At the forefront of our team is Dr. Shachi Patel, who specializes in both anesthesia and pain management. Dr. Patel performs radiofrequency ablation when you need pain relief.

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that’s used to treat pain by damaging the nerves involved. A specialized needle is inserted into the area that’s causing pain. The needle is then heated with an electric current and applied to the nerve.

The heat from the electrical current creates heat damage to the nerve, which inhibits its ability to send pain signals to your brain. The procedure can be done in an outpatient setting, and provides long-term pain relief.

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning it only requires a tiny incision in the area where the needle is inserted. You won’t need general anesthesia; you’ll receive a relaxing medication and numbing agent into the area Dr. Patel is working on.

How is radiofrequency ablation performed?

For the procedure, you’ll change into a gown and an IV is started in your arm. The IV is used if you need light sedation for the procedure. The team then takes you into the procedure room, where you’ll lie on either your back or your stomach.

Once you’re comfortable, Dr. Patel injects numbing medication into the area where she’ll be working. She then uses a type of Xray, known as fluoroscopy, to pinpoint the area of your pain. She inserts a tiny needle into the area, and verifies its location with the machine.

Dr. Patel then inserts the electrode through the thin needle that provides the current. She’ll ask you if you feel any kind of tingling sensation in the area. This helps her identify the correct nerves to target.

When she knows she’s in the right area, Dr. Patel initiates the radiofrequency current through the needle, which heats up the affected nerve. The nerve is then damaged, which effectively keeps it from sending pain signals.

The risks of the procedure

Although radiofrequency ablation is relatively safe, it does carry risks like any other minimally invasive procedure. However, the benefits often outweigh the risks when Dr. Patel suggests this treatment.

Nonetheless, it’s important that you understand the potential risks so you can make an educated decision. Some of the risks of radiofrequency ablation include:

You could also be excessively sensitive to the numbing medication, causing your skin to stay numb for longer-than-normal. Although sedation for the procedure isn’t common, if you do need it, you could have a reaction to the anesthesia, causing respiratory depression.

What to expect after the procedure

After your procedure, you’ll be observed for a little time to monitor your vital signs. The team watches you to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions to the numbing medications.

You may have some discomfort in the area of the procedure, and it may feel numb for some time afterward. You can use ice packs for the first couple of days to help relieve any inflammation after your procedure.

You can go home the same day, and can usually return to your normal daily activities within a day or two. Pain relief can take a little time to kick in, but you should start feeling better within a week or two after the ablation.

If you’re tired of suffering from neck and back pain, radiofrequency ablation could be for you. Call our office today at 302-355-0900 to schedule a consultation. You can also book an appointment with us online. 

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