Radiofrequency Ablation
A doctor with a patient’s x-ray film

Radiofrequency (RF)  is a therapy using a small needle to apply electricity and heat to a very precise target point along the spine. Once your physician has identified you as a potential candidate for RF, you will undergo a series of “test blocks.”these tests box use local anesthetic (like what your dentist uses to numb your teeth) to temporarily “turn off” the painful signals coming from the nerves. If you feel better (at least 50% better and hopefully even more) immediately after the block, then there is a very good chance that you will also respond to the RF procedure.

After successful test blocks, the RF procedure is done. It is done as an outpatient, usually in your doctor’s office. Your doctor will use low voltage electricity to make sure the needles are placed in the best position possible. Next, more local anesthetic is administered so that the RF prodedure will be as painless as possible. The procedure usually lasts from 15 minutes to a half hour. Mild pain relievers are sometimes required after the procedure.

It may take several weeks for the RF procedure to take effect. You will usually have a follow-up appointment one or two months after the procedure to discuss the results. Radio frequency is not eight “permanent cure.”  Actually, one of the benefits of RF is that it does not permanently destroy the nerve. This allows the nerve to grow back very slowly over time so that painful “neuromas” (tangled  nerve fibers)  don’t form along the nerve. Well nerve regrowth does mean that the pain will also return, the RF procedure can simply be repeated when the pain comes back. The relief from RF can last from months to years in some cases.

Ask your physician if you are a candidate for this simple and effective treatment for chronic spinal pain.

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