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Chronic Hip Pain: When Should I Consider Radiofrequency Ablation?

If you suffer from chronic hip pain, surgery may not be your only option. Minimally invasive techniques are revolutionizing the field of pain management, and one such option is radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

Vladimir Fiks, MD, of Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, is an expert in performing RFA. With this treatment, Dr. Fiks uses a special needle to disable the nerve that’s sending the pain signals. This, in turn, can provide significant relief.

In this blog, Dr. Fiks explains how RFA works, when it should be considered, and what you can expect from treatment.

How radiofrequency ablation works

Radiofrequency ablation addresses pain by destroying the nerves that are sending the pain signals. During RFA, Dr. Fiks guides a special needle to the specific nerve that's sending the pain signals to your brain.

Then, he releases radio waves through the needle, which heats up the area and destroys the problematic nerve. This, then, prevents the pain signals from going from the joint to your brain.

Dr. Fiks can use RFA for numerous pain conditions since he targets the specific nerve causing your symptoms. When it involves the hip, RFA typically involves targeting articular branches of the femoral and arbitrator nerves.

When to consider radiofrequency ablation

Dr. Fiks offers numerous therapies for chronic hip pain. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, Dr. Fiks performs a comprehensive exam to determine the cause of your symptoms and the best strategy to provide relief.

Issues that often respond to RFA include:

For chronic hip pain, RFA is often most effective in individuals with isolated pain in the joint — not as part of an all-over pain condition, such as fibromyalgia.

If Dr. Fiks determines that you could benefit from RFA, he often administers a nerve block injection first. If the nerve block provides pain relief, then this can confirm that the targeted nerve is responsible for the pain signals. Then, Dr. Fiks can perform your RFA procedure.

What to expect from radiofrequency ablation

During RFA, you lie awake on an X-ray table, but you receive a local anesthetic in the treatment site to keep you comfortable.

Then, using real-time X-ray guidance, Dr. Fiks inserts the needle. Once in place, he tests the location with a microelectrode. If you have a tingling sensation or another response, this confirms the ideal placement for treatment. At this point, Dr. Fiks administers the radio waves to heat the problematic nerve.

RFA treatments can take 15 minutes to two hours, and you can go home after your procedure to rest. In most cases, you can resume regular activity within a day or two. However, you may have some tenderness or pain in the treatment site for a few days.

In addition to RFA, Dr. Fiks could recommend a physical therapy program to help you rebuild flexibility and strength in your hip.

Pain reduction rates for RFA hip treatments vary from 30-90%, and results can last anywhere from 8 days to 3 years. Some people experience relief immediately, but it can take days or weeks for others to see results.

It’s important to note that treated nerves can regrow after RFA, meaning your pain can return. As a result, you should consider this as a temporary treatment. However, you can undergo the procedure more than once if it successfully treats your hip pain.

Do you have chronic hip pain? To see if radiofrequency ablation may be able to help you, call 971-233-4199 or book an appointment online with Advanced Pain Management Center today.

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