Radiofrequency ablation (RFA/rhizotomy) is a nonsurgical, minimally invasive procedure that uses the energy of radio waves to stun/burn the painful nerves of the lower back and eliminates the transmission of pain signals to your brain.
This injection is a diagnostic test that will help determine if the radiofrequency ablation will effectively eliminate the transmission of pain signals to your brain. It must be completed before moving to radiofrequency ablation.
Consider the benefits of the procedure and speak to your provider about your options.
A local anesthetic will be used to numb your skin. A small needle will then be inserted near the facet joint. Fluoroscopy, a type of x-ray, will be used to position the needle. Once the needle is properly placed, the nerve will be numbed. Radiofrequency energy will then be used to disrupt the medical branch nerve. This is often repeated at more than one level of the spine.
Most patients are able to walk around immediately after the procedure. If you will be sedated you should bring a driver to take you home after the procedure is completed and you have been monitored for a short time. As the anesthetic wears off, you may feel sore and have pain in the treated area. It can take one to two weeks for the ablated nerves to stop sending pain signals to your brain.
Pain relief may last from 3 months to more than a year. It is possible the nerve will regrow and start the cycle of pain again. If the nerve does regrow, it is usually 6-12 months after the procedure. Radiofrequency ablation is 70-80% effective in people who have a successful trial block first.The procedure can be repeated if needed.
As with any procedure involving a needle, there is a rare chance of infection, bleeding, allergic reaction and nerve damage. Complications are extremely rare. Talk with your provider if you have specific questions about the risk of your procedure.
Dress in loose, comfortable clothing, and leave jewelry and other valuables at home.
You must have a driver to take you home after the procedure.
If you are scheduled to be sedated, you must fast for 8 hours before the procedure.
If you take medications for high blood pressure or any kind of heart condition, please take your medications as normal with a small sip of water.
If you take aspirin or any blood thinning medication you will need to stop taking it for 2-7 days before your procedure. Discuss the risks involved with the physician who prescribes your blood thinner. Restart the blood thinner the day after your procedure.
The procedure can take anywhere from 30-40 minutes.
The procedure will be done in our procedure room with the use of a fluoroscopy (x-ray) machine.
There will be some discomfort involved, due to needles penetrating your skin. However, local anesthetic and sedatives can be used to decrease the discomfort level.
If you are not currently a patient of Arkansas Pain Specialists, you will need a consultation first. If you are a current patient, please speak to your provider about scheduling your procedure.