Radio frequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses an electrical current produced by a radio wave to heat an area of nerve tissue. Heating the nerve tissue decreases its ability to transmit pain signals, which ultimately reduces pain in a particular area. RFA is considered to be a safe and effective treatment for certain types of pain that has few complications. It also provides longer-lasting pain relief than other types of therapeutic injections.
Did You Know?
Pain relief from radio frequency ablation generally lasts about six months to two years, however some cases have experienced pain relief for up to three years.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Am I a candidate for radio frequency ablation (RFA)?
You may be a candidate for radio frequency ablation if you experience chronic pain in the neck or lower back from any of the following conditions:
- Osteoarthritis (spinal degeneration)
- Facet joint pain/arthritis
- Cervicogenic headache
- Occipital neuralgia
- Posterior pelvic pain from the sacroiliac joint
To determine if you are an ideal candidate for radio frequency ablation, schedule a consultation with Dr. Greg Condie of Aspen Orthopedic Pain and Spine today.
What can I expect when having radio frequency ablation (RFA) performed at Aspen Orthopedic Pain and Spine?
At Aspen Orthopedic Pain and Spine, we perform radio frequency ablation as an outpatient procedure that is completed either in our office or at a hospital. We use a light level of sedation, however you will be alert enough to describe what you feel during the procedure. To begin the procedure, you will lie down on your stomach and the treatment area will be thoroughly cleaned and numbed with a topical anesthetic. Dr. Condie will then use a special x-ray known as a fluoroscopy to locate and guide the RFA needle to either the medial or lateral branch nerves. An active electrode is then inserted through the needle to transfer electrical current to the nerve. Oftentimes, stimulation of the nerve will initiate the pain you have been experiencing. This identifies the affected nerve. Then, the nerve is heated to reduce pain. In some cases, this procedure may be repeated on multiple nerves. In most cases, the entire procedure can be completed in about 30-90 minutes, depending on how many nerves need to be treated.
What can I expect after having radio frequency ablation?
After receiving radio frequency ablation, you will be transferred to a recovery area so we can briefly monitor you as the sedation wears off. As the topical anesthetic wears off, you may experience sunburn-type pain around the injection site. You may also feel some numbness in the skin. You will be released to recover at home after about an hour in recovery. It is recommended to rest for the first few days following RFA, however you can return to your normal routine as your pain fades. On average, it takes about 1-3 weeks to experience pain relief after receiving RFA injections.