What is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Radiofrequency Ablation (or radiofrequency lesioning) interrupts the conduction of pain signals to the brain, which can provide long lasting pain relief for those with chronic pain caused by arthritis or other degenerative changes, or from an injury. It is a safe minimally invasive out-patient procedure typically performed by an Interventional Pain Specialist who uses image guidance technologies (ultrasound, CT scans or x-rays) to perform the procedure, properly target nervous tissue, and place the needle and to avoiding nerve or other injury.
There are primarily two types of Radiofrequency Ablation:
- A medial branch neurotomy (ablation), which affects the nerves carrying pain from the facet joints, or
- A lateral branch neurotomy (ablation), which affects nerves that carry pain from the sacroiliac joints
There is little danger in Radiofrequency Ablation because the nerves of the medial and lateral branch do not control mussels or sensations to the arms or legs. While the medial branch nerves do control small muscles in the back and neck the loss of these nerves has not proved harmful to date.
How Does Radiofrequency Work?
Radiofrequency Ablation uses radio waves (or an electric current) to generate heat that is used to interrupt nerve conduction. With the use of this specialized generator, heat energy is created and delivered to precisely target the nerves that carry pain impulses. The resulting “lesion” involves an area of tissue destruction at the tip of the needle that can include pain-carrying nerves.
Identifying the Correct Nerves
Before a radiofrequency procedure is scheduled a nerve block will be performed to prove that the patient’s pain is being transmitted by the medial or lateral branch. If the procedure is successful and relieves the pain, the doctor knows that nerve is the source of the pain and the correct target for treatment.
Which Conditions Respond to Radiofrequency?
Radiofrequency Ablation can help many patients with pain from:
- Chronic neck and back pain
- Facet joint arthritis
- Injuries such as whiplash
- Spinal arthritis (spondylosis)
- Prior spinal surgeries
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Peripheral nerve entrapment syndromes
How Long Does Radiofrequency Ablation Last?
Radio Frequency can provide pain relief from 9 months to 18 months or longer and improvement is typically seen within 2 weeks. This procedure can provide sustained relief and may only require one or two procedures.
Meet Our Neurologists
At Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles our neurologists specialize in treating chronic pain using Radiofrequency Ablation, a minimally invasive treatment option that target the nerves that cause pain. Dr. Jordan, Dr. O’Connor, Dr. Chang and Dr. Franc all diagnose and treat patients with conditions where Cooled Radiofrequency may be the best treatment option. If you suffer from chronic pain caused by sensory nerves and need a specialist who uses Cooled Radiofrequency contact one of our neurologists to schedule an appointment to discuss this treatment option at 310-829-5968.