Radiofrequency (RF) ablation is a therapeutic procedure designed to decrease or eliminate pain arising from nerves that supply sensation to degenerative joints of the body, most commonly the facet joints of the spine, sacroiliac joint, and knee joint. The procedure involves using heat to destroy these sensory nerves, thereby breaking the communication link between the source of pain and the brain.
Did You Know?
Before any radiofrequency ablation procedure, we will perform a test block to the joint, or joints, that we suspect may be causing your pain. This involves injecting a combination of numbing medication and steroids to the affected area. If the test block produces 50% or greater pain relief, this is sufficient evidence to move forward with the radiofrequency ablation procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Am I a candidate for radiofrequency ablation?
You may be a candidate for radiofrequency ablation if you have degenerative joint disease of the facet joints of the spine, sacroiliac joint, or knee as shown on physical exam by our pain specialists, as well as imaging such as X-ray or MRI to confirm degenerative joint disease. To determine if you are an ideal candidate for radiofrequency ablation, schedule a consultation with Ascension Pain Specialists today.
What can I expect when receiving radiofrequency ablation at Ascension Pain Specialists?
While preparing to have a radiofrequency ablation, your doctor may instruct you to briefly discontinue certain medications that could affect the injection, such as blood-thinning medications. On the day of your procedure, you will lie down on your stomach or on your back, depending on the location of the injection site. An X-ray machine is generally used to determine the exact injection site. Then the skin is sanitized and anesthetized before the radiofrequency ablation. You will remain awake for the procedure in order to provide feedback to your pain specialist during critical parts of the procedure. While the injection may be uncomfortable at first, your pain specialist will sufficiently numb the area before applying to the target nerves. Each target nerve requires approximately 60 seconds of heat application.
What can I expect after getting a radiofrequency ablation?
After your injection, you will need to keep the injection site clean and dry for the first 24 hours in order to prevent infection. Oftentimes, you can expect to experience some soreness around the injection site for the first 24-48 hours after the procedure. In this case, you can use an ice pack for 15-20 minutes every two hours. Although the effects your radiofrequency ablation may be felt within a few hours, it can take up to 4 weeks to notice the full effect. In most cases, your radiofrequency ablation should last about 3-6 months, although they can last longer with physical therapy.