Relieving Your Back Pain with Radiofrequency Ablation

Relieving Your Back Pain with Radiofrequency Ablation

Did you know that around 8 in 10 Americans have back pain at some point in their lives? Experiencing problems from time to time is bad enough. But, when it becomes chronic, this issue can impact your everyday life, especially if nothing seems to provide relief.

Vladimir Fiks, MD, of Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, specializes in getting to the bottom of complex pain conditions and finding the most effective ways to eliminate or reduce symptoms. If you have chronic back pain, he could recommend radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

Radiofrequency ablation basics

Unlike pain treatments that mask symptoms, such as medication, radiofrequency ablation eases symptoms by stopping them at the source. This procedure is also known as radiofrequency neuroanatomy.

When you experience pain, it’s because a nerve starts sending messages to your brain that there’s a problem. Your brain processes these signals and tells your body how to respond. In this case, by feeling pain.

Radiofrequency ablation disrupts this communication cycle by targeting the nerves sending your pain signals and temporarily disabling them. This approach makes it highly effective in treating numerous chronic pain conditions, especially those involving the knee, hip, neck, and back.

Conditions that typically respond to radiofrequency ablation include:

And radiofrequency ablation is minimally invasive, so you can get effective pain relief without the need for surgery. 

How radiofrequency ablation works

Radiofrequency ablation comes with minimal risks and complications and typically offers longer-lasting pain relief than other types of therapeutic spine injections

During your procedure, Dr. Fiks uses digital imaging guidance to place the RFA needle near to the nerve that’s transmitting the pain signals. Then he delivers a mild electrical current through the needle and to the nerve, thereby disabling it. This energy heats up a small amount of nerve tissue, basically “shutting off” the nerve. The result? Pain signals stop going to the brain.

Before your treatment begins, you receive intravenous sedation to keep you comfortable. The entire process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours.

What to expect from radiofrequency ablation

You won’t feel anything during RFA, but afterward, you could have some tenderness. However, this should disappear within a few days. You should be able to get relief by using pain medications and icing for the first 24 hours and heating thereafter. 

When you have RFA, you can go home the same day. But you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery because you receive sedation. Similarly, you should avoid strenuous activities for 24 hours and baths for 2-3 days. However, you can safely shower using warm water after 24 hours.

Some people experience pain relief immediately, but it can take up to three weeks in some cases. Similarly, the length of pain relief can vary from person to person, ranging from limited relief to 6-12 months or more of relief.

While RFA can provide significant pain relief, it’s only a temporary solution and not a cure. That’s because treated nerve roots can regrow, meaning your symptoms could return. If a treated nerve root does regrow, it usually takes 6-12 months from the time of the procedure. However, Dr. Fiks can repeat the procedure.

Would you like to see if RFA could relieve your back pain? Learn more by calling 971-233-4199 or booking an appointment online with Advanced Pain Management Center today.

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