The Vault

Spine Center of Texas will be discussing everything you need you know about Radio Frequency Ablation treatment in a two-part blog post:

Radio frequency is a procedure which uses heat energy to target nerves that cause pain. A special generator are used to produce radio frequency or electromagnetic waves, which in turn produce heat. This heat is then delivered directly to the nerves that carry the pain impulses via an RF needle. This treatment provides longer pain relief for patients with back pain by selectively destroying the nerves that carry pain impulses. Patients who underwent other minimally invasive procedures, such as epidural steroid injection, facet joint injection, or sympathetic nerve blocks,  but are still looking for longer relief may be advised to undergo this type of treatment. With radio frequency ablation, pain can be reduced or eliminated for anywhere from a few months to a year.

During the procedure, the nerve structure causing pain must be identified. Then a small insulated needle or RF cannula is placed next to the identified nerves with the help of a live X-ray. When the cannula is placed correctly, the surgeon may perform a test and release a small amount of electric current through the needle tip using two different frequencies. These two frequencies will help confirm if the cannula tip is near the target nerve. When the testing is done,  local anaesthetic is injected to numb the area. The RF generator will then heat the cannula tip for up to 90 seconds, destroying the target nerve.

Radio frequency treatments are not just used to treat for chronic pain. Other conditions that respond well to this type of treatment includesspinal arthritis (spondylosis), post-traumatic pain (whiplash), pain after spine surgery, and other spinal pain conditions. Neuropathic pain conditions like Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS or RSD), peripheral nerve entrapment syndromes, and other assorted chronic pain conditions can also be treated using radio frequency treatment. However, a diagnostic nerve block must first be performed to check a patient’s candidacy for radio frequency. This will help confirm whether the patient’s pain will improve with radio frequency.

Be sure to check back in again for the continuation of our discussion regarding radio frequency ablation. If you are suffering from chronic back pain or other types of spinal problems, don’t hesitate to contact Spine Center of Texas.

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