Having chronic back pain is no way to go through life. It can take away the joy of exercise, athletics, and even less physically strenuous activities you once were able to partake in without a second thought. Not only that, but chronic back pain can affect quality of sleep and can even be a near-constant distraction, robbing folks afflicted with it of the ability to focus during conversations, work, and the like.
Here at ClinTech Center for Spine Health in Johnstown, CO, we offer our patients comprehensive, cutting-edge spinal treatments ranging from cell-based therapies in the field of regenerative medicine to spine surgery and spinal and joint injections. With our unique blend of experience, innovative techniques and equipment, we have a commitment to addressing the root cause of pain rather than simply the symptoms themselves.
One of those aforementioned innovative techniques is called radiofrequency ablation, or RFA. We are proud to announce our newest treatment, and today we’d like to dedicate our post to answering some frequently asked questions in reference to radiofrequency ablation and its facets. Keep reading if you or someone you know are interested in learning more about this nerve-related spinal pain treatment!
What Is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Let’s start with the basics. RFA can be defined as a medical procedure which involves the use of radio waves that generate an electric current that can be harnessed to nerves which are sending severe pain signals to the brain. This current will inhibit the nerve’s functional ability to transmit these pain signals. There are two primary advantages to RFA over similar treatments utilized in the past. RFA doesn’t directly stimulate nerves or heart muscle, and as such can be administered with or without general anesthetic. The second advantage is that radiofrequency ablation is a precise treatment, meaning there is little chance of collateral damage.
RFA can break the cycle of chronic back pain that many folks find themselves the victim of.
When Can I Start To See Results?
You can start to see results very soon after your RFA treatment. Folks who experience a successful procedure (between 30 and 50 percent) will usually feel a significant decrease in localized pain for nine months to 14 months. While each individual is different, it’s typically a given that the treated nerves will regenerate after this time period, meaning the pain signals will resume being transmitted to the brain.
Is RFA Safe? Are There Side Effects?
This procedure is quite safe and highly-regarded in the medical community as a treatment which has very few side effects. It is highly rare to find an associated complication, although there is a minor risk of infection at the insertion site. Having a qualified medical professional like Dr. Techy at ClinTech Center for Spine Health aids in being able to appropriately monitor the risk for a situation such as that.
Will The Nerves Eventually Grow Back?
As we stated above, yes, the nerves will regenerate, usually within a year or two. As each person’s body is different, it is difficult to be more precise in our generalizations than that.
What Can Radiofrequency Ablation Be Used To Treat?
RFA can treat some forms of spine pain, chronic lower back pain, neck pain, but can also be utilized to treat pain coming from the degeneration of joints caused by arthritis.
The two types of joints that can be treated with radiofrequency ablation are facet joints and sacroiliac joints. Facet joints can be found at each level of vertebrae in the spine, and are connected to two medial branch nerves which carry signals from the spine to the brain. The second type, sacroiliac joints, can be found at the lowest part of the spine, specifically between the ilium and sacrum. They are connected to lateral branch nerves which also send pain signals to the brain. RFA can treat the pain occurring from problems associated with both sacroiliac or facet joints.
What Is The Difference Between Radiofrequency Ablation And Rhizotomy?
There is no difference between rhizotomy and RFA. The treatment remains the same; severing nerve roots in the spinal cord to remove muscle spasm and chronic back pain.
Is It A Painful Procedure?
While some patients experience pain during the procedure, this usually is able to be corrected quite quickly. The needle position should be adjusted or more anesthetic might need to be administered to make the patient feel more comfortable. In some cases, this pain is a signal that nerves which aren’t intended to be treated are being affected by the heat from the RFA treatment. At ClinTech, we closely monitor the situation to ensure precision.
What Does The Aftermath Entail?
Your doctor will monitor your body’s reaction to the treatment. Again, complications are highly unlikely, but adverse side effects could include muscle weakness, severe pain, motor deficits, or paralysis. That’s why it’s important to have a friend or family member drive you home and monitor your feelings and behavior for a short period after the RFA procedure.
Are There Any Activity Restrictions Following The Treatment?
Yes, there are a few restrictions, which your healthcare team will brief you on before the treatment, should you end up receiving it. Some examples of activities you’ll want to avoid include the following:
- Avoid baths for up to two days after your treatment. However, showers are generally fine. Make sure that your bandage is properly secured before taking your shower.
- Do not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours after RFA treatment.
- Do not lift weights, exercise vigorously, or exert yourself strenuously for a 24-hour period after the treatment.
- You should be able to remove the bandage before bed, but will likely need to re-apply bandages until the wound has completely healed.
Reach Out To Us Today
We hope that you’ve found this RFA FAQ post illuminating and encouraging. Folks in Fort Collins, Johnstown, Greeley, Berthoud, Loveland, Windsor, or beyond who are in need of pain relief should ask their physician about Radiofrequency ablation. Alternatively, you can contact us directly to schedule a consultation. All you have to do is fill out the form found here!