How Radiofrequency Ablation Can Disable Nerves and Alleviate Pain

The treatment of chronic pain is a hot topic for patients and doctors alike. Estimates place 1 in 5 American adults into the chronic pain pool, with 8% experiencing high-impact chronic pain, serious enough to restrict the daily activities needed to function normally.  

Dr. Shachi Patel and her team at Delmarva Pain and Spine Center offer radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to their chronic pain patients who may benefit from this minimally invasive, drug-free pain management technique. RFA can reduce or eliminate the amount of pain you experience, easing your dependence on other treatments that may come with harmful side effects.

Candidates for RFA

When your chronic pain originates in the neck or back, or when it’s related to arthritic degeneration of joints, it may be possible to reduce or eliminate the pain symptoms you experience for six months or longer. If you’ve previously had good results with nerve block injections, RFA represents another way of interrupting pain signals from affected nerves.

How RFA works

Since pain signals originate in nerves, RFA works on the principle that pinpointing and disabling nerves can reduce the amount of pain you feel. Radiofrequencies can transmit energy to tissue that absorbs that energy, in the same way that microwaves can heat food.

A thin, needle-like probe enters your body, guided with the assistance of a special type of X-ray called a fluoroscope. After placing the tip of the probe close to the target nerve, Dr. Patel activates the radiofrequency current to burn a section of the nerve, creating a lesion. 

This is a low-energy process, so the burning, or ablation, part of the RFA treatment takes about 90 seconds. It’s possible to treat more than one problem nerve in a single session, which typically takes place in an outpatient setting.

After your procedure

You’re conscious through the procedure, though you receive sedatives and local anesthetics. These may make you unsteady after treatment, but you should be able to walk around. You need to arrange a ride home after the RFA procedure.

Some pain or discomfort may remain for up to two weeks after your treatment, due to the procedure itself. Results vary with chronic pain relief. Some people experience reduction of pain immediately, while others could wait up to three weeks. Most people seem to respond within 10 days.

Chronic pain relief usually lasts from six months to two years, and some people have permanent pain relief or reduction. If you’ve previously had successful nerve block treatments, you can expect an 80% chance of pain relief from your RFA. It’s possible for nerves to regrow through the lesion, and the RFA procedure may be repeated if necessary.

To find out more about RFA and other drug-free pain management treatments, call Delmarva Pain and Spine Center in Newark, Delaware, at 302-355-0900 or by using the online booking tool to schedule your personal consultation. You can also send a message to the team here on the website.

There’s a way around chronic pain. Let Dr. Patel and her team find your path to pain freedom. Contact the office today. 

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