Radiofrequency Ablation

Coastal Spine is focused entirely on the treatment of the neck and spine. Sometimes, we will need to alleviate the existing pain before you can work on physical therapy and other nonsurgical therapies with a variety of treatments.

A doctor at Coastal Spine consulting a patient about a radiofrequency ablation.

One of the ways we attempt to alleviate neck and spine distress is through a radiofrequency ablation procedure. In some cases, this treatment can provide longer-term pain relief than an injection. Radiofrequency is an option for patients where injections have not worked or for those in chronic pain.

During a radiofrequency ablation procedure, our specialists use a type of heat called radiofrequency to target nerves that carry pain impulses and eliminate them. This can reduce or alleviate pain for a few months up to a year.

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Coastal Spine uses epidural steroid injections in two situations:

  1. Rehabilitation – Radiofrequency ablation procedures can provide relief that will help patients undergo rehabilitation without battling through otherwise acute pain and inflammation.
  • Pain – Several common conditions, including chronic spinal pain, spondylosis, trauma, and post-surgical pain, can cause severe to acute low back and/or leg pain. For these and other conditions that can cause chronic pain, radiofrequency ablation may be an effective nonsurgical treatment option.

The procedure typically takes about 20 minutes to an hour and is performed under mild sedation. After the recovery time, the patient is required to have a driver for transportation home.

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Radiofrequency Ablation of Sacroiliac Joints

If SI joint injections caused significant however brief episodes of pain relief, a radiofrequency ablation of the sacroiliac joints may be performed.  This procedure uses electrical currents produced by radio waves that heat up small nerves that supply sensation to the SI joint.

Radiofrequency Ablation of the Facet Joints

A minimally invasive procedure that is done after a medial branch block for more long-term pain relief resulting from facet joint arthritis.  This procedure, uses electrical currents produced by radio waves to heat up the small nerves that innervate the facet joint.  This heat up to decrease pain signals from the facet joint arthritis.

Who is a candidate for radiofrequency ablation?

This procedure is often performed when a patient with chronic back or neck pain is no longer improving with other methods of pain relief, such as injection therapy. Patients suffering pain caused by arthritis, sacroiliitis, spondylosis of the spine, or other conditions may explore the value of radiofrequency ablation with us. The procedure cannot be performed on pregnant women or people with bleeding problems or an active infection.

What are the benefits of radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation is an advantageous treatment for qualified patients, offering several benefits. Undergoing this minimally-invasive procedure may help a person avoid surgery, which minimizes downtime and risks of post-surgery pain. After the pain is relieved, patients may experience improved range of motion or physical function with a decreased need for pain medication.

Radiofrequency ablation is:

  • Minimally invasive, which reduces procedural risks.
  • Effective. Approximately 70 to 80% of patients who have undergone this procedure achieve profound improvement.
  • Quick. The procedure is conducted in the office in less than half an hour.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Radiofrequency ablation is generally considered safe and effective. There are few risks of complications, such as increased nerve pain, which is usually temporary. Additional potential risks include allergic reactions to medications used in the procedure, localized numbness, neuroma, neuritis, infection, or lack of improvement. During your consultation with us, we will review all applicable risks and benefits of the radiofrequency ablation procedure.

What is the recovery process like after this procedure?

Patients are monitored for a short time after their procedure as their anesthetic and sedative wear off. Most can walk around within a few minutes. However, patients cannot drive themselves home after their treatment. The anesthetic administered before the procedure may cause temporary numbness in the legs if the low back is treated.

Pain relief may occur at different times for different people. Some patients feel an immediate improvement. In other instances, pain decreases gradually over several weeks. In many cases, patients can return to work and most normal activities within 24 to 72 hours. You may shower after radiofrequency ablation but should avoid taking baths for two days. Hot tubs and swimming should also be avoided.

Is this procedure painful?

It is not painful to undergo radiofrequency ablation. An anesthetic is administered to decrease sensation in the nerve roots before the procedure begins. Patients may also receive a mild sedative to calm the central nervous system throughout treatment. This is unlike general anesthesia, which causes a sleep state. Sedation is a lighter form of anesthesia in which you remain awake and alert but physically comfortable.

How long will my results last?

The relief achieved with radiofrequency ablation can last from 9 months to 2 years. Nerve growth may occur through the burned lesion created by the thermal energy. If this occurs, it is usually 6 months to a year after the procedure. If necessary, radiofrequency ablation can be repeated.

Schedule a Consultation Today!

If you’re interested in learning more about radiofrequency ablation please contact us for a consultation at (631) 424-6707 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.

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Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054

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