Radiofrequency Ablation

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation is a form of treatment for chronic pain that can be useful if your condition isn’t improving after a course of conservative treatment.

Radiofrequency ablation uses an electrical current to prevent pain signals from your nerves reaching your brain. The electrical current creates just the right amount of heat to damage the nerve endings that are causing your chronic pain, without harming the surrounding tissues.

Radiofrequency ablation could provide long-term relief from chronic pain. Dr. Mallavaram’s patients report experiencing positive results from their treatment. The results of radiofrequency ablation will depend on the cause of your pain. This treatment provides better results for patients with specific chronic pain problems.

What conditions can radiofrequency ablation treat?

Radiofrequency ablation seems to provide the most benefits to patients who have:

  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Arthritis

Dr. Mallavaram finds the best results are in patients who have spinal stenosis or facet joint pain. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of your spinal column. The facet joints are the small joints that link the vertebrae in your spine.

If you have a chronic pain problem, The Spine & Pain Center of California team needs to assess your condition to ensure you’re a good candidate for radiofrequency ablation.

What happens during a radiofrequency ablation treatment?

The first stage in your radiofrequency ablation treatment is to have an IV (intravenous) line put in your arm that delivers a sedative. The sedative helps you stay calm and relaxed, so you don’t feel any stress or discomfort during the procedure.

Before starting the radiofrequency ablation, a local anesthetic is injected to numb the treatment area. Dr. Mallavaram then inserts a fine needle into the area. He uses a special kind of moving X-ray technology (fluoroscopy) to show him the tissues inside your body. Dr. Mallavaram uses the fluoroscopic images to guide the placement of the needle.

When the needle is in the right place, Dr. Mallavaram inserts a tiny electrode. He asks you if you have any tingling sensations to check that the electrode is in the correct position. When it is, Dr. Mallavaram triggers a current of radiofrequency energy that goes through the electrode and heats the nerve endings.

What happens after radiofrequency ablation treatment?

Once the treatment is over, you go to the recovery area and wait for the sedative to wear off, after which you can go home. You should experience relief from your pain a week or so after having radiofrequency ablation. The extent of the pain relief varies between patients, so you might have anything from a mild improvement to almost complete relief.

Most patients find the effects of radiofrequency ablation last 6-18 months. You might find the effects continue long after this though, with some patients experiencing continuing pain relief for years after their radiofrequency ablation treatment.

Find out if radiofrequency ablation could benefit you by calling The Spine & Pain Center of California today or booking an appointment using the online form.