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When to Consider Radiofrequency Ablation for Lower Back Pain

When to Consider Radiofrequency Ablation for Lower Back Pain

You may not know about radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a treatment that uses radio-wave heat to target specific nerves. RFA temporarily interrupts the target nerve’s capacity to transmit pain signals, which provides relief from back pain.

If you have low back pain, finding an effective treatment to help you feel better is paramount. At aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics, our pain management specialist, Brian K. Rich, MD, finds solutions for musculoskeletal pain, including back pain. RFA is one of those solutions.

The details on radiofrequency ablation

RFA is a minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedure to lessen or stop the transmission of pain. The nerve that is causing the pain is heated by radiofrequency waves, effectively stopping the pain signals from reaching the brain.

The most frequent conditions treated with this procedure include chronic pain, spondylosis, and sacroiliitis. It can also be used to treat pain in the knees, pelvis, neck, back, and peripheral nerves.

Some advantages of RFA include:

Dr. Rich works closely with you to determine if you’re a good candidate for RFA.

How RFA is performed

Because it’s an outpatient procedure, radiofrequency neurotomy allows you to return home later that day.

For the treatment, you’ll lie comfortably on your stomach. The radiofrequency needles are inserted after a numbing agent has been injected into your skin.

In order to ensure that only the desired nerve tissue is treated, Dr. Rich uses a specialized X-ray device to direct the radiofrequency needles to the precise location.

After the procedure you rest until you're ready to return home. It’s normal to experience some mild soreness in the treated area, but it should subside within a day or two.

Radiofrequency ablation effectively relieves pain

For up to 14 days following the procedure, you may still experience some pain. This is usually due to temporary residual effects of the nerve ablation. However, recovery is quick. Most patients can resume their normal activities within three days.

For those who have had successful nerve blocks, radiofrequency nerve ablation tends to significantly reduce pain. (A nerve block is a procedure that helps us tell if a specific nerve is contributing to your pain.)

After receiving treatment, patients may begin to feel pain relief as soon as 10 days later, and it may continue for up to two years. You might notice a reduction in the need for painkillers and an improvement in function. In the six to twelve months following treatment, the nerve might grow back. Fortunately, if your pain comes back, Dr. Rich can repeat the procedure.

When to consider radiofrequency ablation

This procedure might be right for you if you experience lower back pain. RFA reduces pain while preserving nerve function by blocking the portion of the nerve that sends the pain signal to your brain.

Typically, the procedure takes less than an hour, and you can leave the office the same day. It offers long-lasting pain relief and excludes the use of narcotics.

We advocate RFA in a variety of situations, including:

With RFA, we can target the exact nerves that are activated. This method can be used to treat the majority of spine problems as well as arthritis.

If you’re seeking relief from back pain, call or book online to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rich at aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics at one of our clinics in Southlake, Texas, or Lawton, Oklahoma. 

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