Chronic pain lasts for longer than 12 weeks and is treatment-resistant. In many cases, damaged nerves misfire and cause pain, even in the absence of a known cause.
Nerve pain is difficult to treat, and in some cases, the constant use of anti-inflammatories or other medications can increase your risk of kidney damage.
If you are looking for an alternative but aren’t quite ready to undergo surgery, or perhaps surgery, read on. Below, we asked Dr. Aashish Jay Kumar, our expert at Spine & Pain Specialists of the Carolinas, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, to explain how a minimally invasive procedure can improve a patient’s quality of life in the long term.
While most treatments mask the pain caused by misfiring nerves, radiofrequency ablation is used to ablate problematic nerves and stop the pain signals from reaching the brain.
During the procedure, Dr. Kumar inserts a needle into the problem area and guides it with the help of a live X-ray. Once the needle reaches the nerve, it passes a heating current through the nerve, burning it off.
The entire procedure lasts between 15 and 40 minutes and doesn’t involve any downtime. To reduce your discomfort while the needle is guided through your body, our team will give you a sedative. Radiofrequency ablation can be used for chronic back and neck pain.
Most people can return to their daily activities the day after the procedure, but you may need to take a break for a couple of days if you plan to engage in strenuous exercise. Some people experience immediate relief, while others may need to wait around a week to see the final results.
Radiofrequency ablation pain relief isn’t permanent, but it can last up to a year. During that time, you’ll be able to strengthen the problem areas via physical therapy. If the nerves causing your pain regenerate, you can repeat the procedure. Radiofrequency is only effective in people who experience pain caused by a pinched or compressed nerve.
Optimal candidates for this procedure aren’t pregnant, don’t have an ongoing infection, and don’t have a bleeding disorder.
If other conservative therapies didn’t work to eliminate pain and increase your mobility, radiofrequency ablation may be an option. Contact our friendly team to schedule an appointment with our pain management specialist and find out what treatments work best for your symptoms.