People often assume the only answer for chronic pain is more medication or surgery. However, there are numerous approaches that can provide relief without lengthy downtimes or dangerous side effects. One of these innovative treatments is radiofrequency ablation.
Vladimir Fiks, MD, of Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, is committed to delivering exceptional patient care and the most effective treatments available. One of those treatments is radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which stops pain at the source.
If you have spinal pain, peripheral nerve pain, or other types of chronic pain, here’s what you need to know about RFA and when it could be right for you.
How radiofrequency ablation works
Unlike other pain management techniques, RFA stops symptoms in their tracks. More specifically, it stops problematic nerves from sending pain signals to your brain. Since your brain never receives the signal, you don’t feel the sensation. And, it’s all thanks to radio wave energy — or heat.
During RFA treatment, Dr. Fiks inserts a small, hollow needle into the specific nerve causing your pain. Then, he passes a thin electrode inside and delivers the radio waves. When exposed to heat, the targeted nerve develops a lesion that keeps it from sending pain signals. And, due to the precise and targeted approach, the procedure leaves healthy nerves in the area undamaged.
There are four specific goals of RFA, including:
- Reducing or stopping pain
- Improving function in the area
- Reducing the need for pain medication
- Helping to avoid or delay surgery
And Dr. Fiks performs radiofrequency ablation as an outpatient procedure, which means you get to go home the same day.
Pain relief from RFA can occur immediately, but sometimes it can take up to three weeks.
When to consider radiofrequency ablation
Radiofrequency ablation can provide dramatic results, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment for chronic pain. Instead, Dr. Fiks uses RFA for specific types of lower back and neck conditions, such as:
- Spinal arthritis, such as spondylosis and sacroiliac (SI) joint pain
- Chronic arthritis pain in the shoulder, hip, or knee
- Cervicogenic headaches
- Facial pain from trigeminal neuralgia
- Peripheral nerve pain
- Cancer pain
However, before recommending radiofrequency ablation, Dr. Fiks first tries to resolve your symptoms with conservative treatments, such as pain medication and physical therapy. If your pain doesn’t respond to these methods, Dr. Fiks might consider RFA.
Good candidates for radiofrequency ablation
Before performing radiofrequency ablation, Dr. Fiks typically administers a nerve block injection. This step, known as a diagnostic block, helps him identify the particular nerve causing your pain and whether it could respond to RFA treatment.
If you don’t experience significant pain relief, RFA may not be right for you. However, if you have a positive response, Dr. Fiks could suggest moving forward with your treatment.
It’s important to note that radiofrequency ablation isn’t a permanent fix for neck or back pain. That’s because the treated nerve can regrow and start sending pain signals again. If this occurs, you can undergo RFA treatment again to ease your discomfort.
If you respond to RFA, pain relief can last anywhere from 6-12 months or even years.
Do you have chronic pain? Learn more about RFA and other treatment options by calling 971-233-4199 or booking an appointment online with Advanced Pain Management Center today.