Patients suffering from chronic pain who have not responded to other treatments, such as pain medication and physical therapy, may be good candidates for radiofrequency ablation.
Patients diagnosed with arthritis of the spine, sacroiliac joint inflammation, facet joint inflammation, and neck, back, knee, and peripheral nerve pain, may also benefit from radiofrequency ablation.
Symptoms of these conditions include:
Persistent pain and stiffness in the lower back
Pain that worsens after long periods of sitting or standing, or getting out of a chair
Sharp or stabbing, or dull and achy pain
Pain in the buttock, hip, or thigh
Restricted range of motion
Pain when initiating motion
Radiofrequency ablation can be an effective treatment for patients who have experienced good results from steroid injections, epidural injections, or nerve block injections. Patients with other health conditions or illnesses who may not be good candidates for traditional open surgery often consider radiofrequency ablation.
The procedure is not recommended for patients with an active infection, allergies to local anesthetics, or bleeding issues.
Patients should avoid drinking liquids and eating within six hours before the procedure. Clear liquids are permissible up until two hours before the appointment. Patients will receive detailed instructions regarding diet leading up to treatment.
The ilioinguinal nerve begins in the lower back spinal nerve and wraps above the upper ridge of the hip bone and travels into the groin. The nerve provides sensation to the groin, perineum, and upper inner thigh. A nerve block targeting the ilioinguinal nerve may be done to treat groin pain, often after hernia surgery or trauma to the groin.
A microelectrode will then be inserted through the needle and the doctor will ask the patient if they feel a tingling sensation. This will help the doctor identify the right treatment area.
Next, a small radiofrequency current will be sent through the electrode to heat the nerve tissue.
Once the procedure is finished, patients can go home.
Results will vary depending on the cause and location of the pain, however, most patients experience some pain relief after the procedure. Results can last six to 12 months for some patients, and a few years for others.
Patients can resume their regular diet and medications immediately, but should avoid driving and engaging in rigorous activity for 24 hours after the procedure. It’s important to take it easy for the rest of the day. Patients can resume normal activities the following day.
Radiofrequency ablation is a relatively safe procedure, with low risk of adverse effects. Serious complications, including infection and bleeding at the incision site, are uncommon.
Patients may experience the following temporary side effects:
Weakness or numbness in the legs
Swelling and bruising at the incision site
Radiofrequency ablation is a treatment that uses an electric current to heat up a small area of nerve tissue and block pain signals. The procedure can provide lasting relief for people experiencing chronic pain, especially in the lower back, neck, and arthritic joints.