Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure
What is Radiofrequency Ablation (or RFA)?
RFA is a treatment used to deal with neck or back pain. You may be a candidate for a Radiofrequency Ablation if you have injury or arthritis in your spinal joints. This is a three part process that involves two tests to be performed to see if you are indeed a candidate.
The tests are called Medial Branch Blocks or MBB for short. If you respond favorably to the MBB’s then you are a candidate for the Radiofrequency ablation treatment.
How long does it take for Radiofrequency Ablation to work?
Radiofrequency ablation surgery may not immediately bring pain relief. For some people the pain relieving effects of the nerve ablation will begin at the 10 day mark. For others, it can take two to three weeks for any noticeable sign of relief. For this reason your doctor may schedule a follow-up exam 3 weeks after the surgery to check how the procedure is working. The success rate of an RFA procedure is about 70% for pain relief, and helps people who have neck pain, lower back pain, and spinal pain.
Radiofrequency Ablation Side Effects
Right after the surgery you may experience burning or hypersensitivity at the injection site as a side effect. Numbness or tingling may also be experienced at the injection site. It can feel like sunburn, and can last for a few days or weeks, but can be treated with rest and some ice packs over the effected area. These symptoms are less common in the lower and mid back, but are more common in the higher levels of the neck.
If you have worse pain after Radiofrequency Ablation
Since RFA is using radiofrequency to stop signals from coming from your nerves you may experience slightly increased pain for a few days after the surgery, since the nerves are irritated. That is one of the normal side effects in a few patients and decreases after that first few days.If the pain doesn’t subside after the 3 week mark, you can attempt to repeat the procedure, as some people do. Or if the RFA relieves some of the pain, but there is still pain present you can couple it with other pain management techniques.