Radiofrequency Ablation—Helping You Live with Less Pain

Dr. Dimitrios Lambrou Apr 21, 2014

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is not something that E.T. uses to “phone home”; it is actually a procedure using radio waves or electric current to generate sufficient heat to interrupt nerve conduction. When the nerve tissues are heated it blocks pain signals from being transmitted.

This treatment can be used to help people with a variety of conditions including:

  • Low back pain
  • Chronic, or long-lasting, low back pain
  • Pain caused by the breakdown of joints in the spine
  • Neck pain
  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Pain from prior spinal surgeries
  • Damage caused by whiplash

RFA is a minimally invasive procedure that is usually performed with local anesthetic and mild sedation. The procedure includes the following steps:

  • An intravenous (IV) is often started so that relaxation medication can be given.
  • The patient is asked to lie on the procedure table and the area being treated is cleaned.
  • The physician uses x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy) to direct the radiofrequency along the nerves
  • The skin in the area being treated is numbed and a small amount of electrical current is passed through a needle to the target nerve.
  • The targeted nerve is then numbed and the radiofrequency waves are introduced to heat the tip of the needle and a heat lesion is created on the nerve to disrupt the nerve’s ability to send pain signals.

Pain relief is generally felt within 2-3 weeks after the procedure and the relief lasts up to 2 years, which is significantly longer compared to other treatment options. The recovery is quick and often a greater range of motion is achieved along with an overall improved quality of life.

Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine is proud to offer our patients radiofrequency ablation treatments. Contact us for an appointment to learn more.