Radiofrequency ablation is an advanced pain management technique that can treat a variety of pain syndromes. The most common use of radiofrequency ablation is in the cervical and lumbar spine where the procedure is employed tor educe pain from arthritic joints. Radiofrequency ablation is a technique that employs heat to disable the pain-transmitting nerves in the spine.
The procedure is very safe and is only used on sensory nerves that transmit pain impulses. There is no risk of paralysis or weakness from this procedure. There is also another type of radiofrequency ablation called “pulsed” radiofrequency ablation. This procedure does not use heat to disable the nerve, and is appropriate for treating a wide variety of pain problems that originate in the sensory nerves.
How does radiofrequency ablation relieve pain?
Radiofrequency ablation uses heat to disable the pain-transmitting nerves in the spine. The process is analogous to microwave ovens that use microwave energy to heat food. Radiofrequency energy is transmitted to the tip of a needle where it is converted to heat, which is applied directly to the nerve fibers. Once the nerves undergo this heat treatment, they slowly stop transmitting pain.
When will I begin to feel pain relief and how long will it last?
With the use of heat to disable the nerve, it may take one to two weeks for the pain-reducing effects of the procedure to occur. Within four weeks you can expect to experience the highest level of pain relief that can be achieved in your individual situation.