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Radiofrequency Ablation

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Radiofrequency Ablation


Radiofrequency Ablation is also known as rhizotomy; it is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to stop or reduce the transmission of pain. Radiofrequency Ablation is performed to reduce the pain from the neck, hip, back, or knee that is not improved by physical therapy and medications.

A Radiofrequency Ablation: a minimally invasive procedure destroys the nerve fiber that carries pain signals to the brain. It uses heat-generated radio waves that target specific nerves and temporarily turn off the nerves’ ability to send pain signals.

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What are the Causes of Radiofrequency Ablation?

The Radiofrequency Ablation procedure is performed if the pain is caused due to the following reasons:

  • ● Occurs on one side or both the sides of the lower back
  • ● Pain gets worse if you lift or twist something
  • ● The pain spreads to other body parts but not below the knee (thighs and buttocks)
  • ● The pain would be less when you lie down

What are the Symptoms of Radiofrequency Ablation?

Injuries in the nerve may restrict your daily activities; the symptoms of pain usually depend on which type of nerve fiber is affected. Some of the common types of nerves and their symptoms are as follows:

  • Motor nerves: Motor nerves regulate the nerves under your conscious control such as talking, holding objects, and walking. Damage to these nerves is usually associated with cramps, muscle weakness, and muscle twitching.
  • Sensory nerves: Sensory nerves give us information about touch, pain, and temperature; thus, you can witness a variety of symptoms. Some of the common symptoms are numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.
  • Autonomic nerves: Autonomic nerves regulate the activities that are not consciously controlled such as heart, thyroid function, and breathing. Some of the common symptoms for the pain in these nerves are excessive sweating, inability to tolerate heat, gastrointestinal symptoms, and changes in blood pressure levels.

How is Radiofrequency Ablation Diagnosed?

There are many causes of pain, and your healthcare professional would suggest few blood tests, other than physical examination. The diagnosis of nerve pain usually requires:

  • Neurological examination: In this, the healthcare professional would check tendon reflexes, muscle strength, muscle tone, and your ability to feel sensations.
  • Medical history: The healthcare professional would dig deep into understanding your lifestyle, family history of neurological disorders, drinking patterns, exposure to toxins, etc.

Some of the other blood tests that the healthcare professional would suggest for further diagnosis are:

  • ● Blood tests
  • ● Imaging tests
  • ● Nerve function tests
  • ● Nerve biopsy
  • ● Skin biopsy

How is Radiofrequency Ablation Treated?

Radiofrequency Ablation is performed under mild sedation, i.e., the patient is conscious enough to feel the lesioning of the nerves. Some of the steps involved in the treatment of Radiofrequency Ablation procedure are as follows:

  • ● The patient is lying on a procedure table. If the procedure involves sedation, then the medication is given to the patient intravenously.
  • ● The skin or area on which the treatment is performed is cleaned to minimize the infection.
  • ● The physician injects anesthesia in the area of the Radiofrequency Ablation injection site.
  • ● he physician makes use of fluoroscopy to direct the needle towards lateral branch nerves.
  • ● An active electrode is inserted through the needle with a small amount of electrical current that is accurately passed to the target nerve once the needle is at its accurate location.
  • ● Once the target nerve is confirmed, a heat lesion is done on the nerve with the use of pulsed, water-cooled, or conventional Radiofrequency Ablation method.
  • ● The same procedure would be used for the treatment of other nerves.

Ensure to follow the below-mentioned steps before the Radiofrequency Ablation procedure:

  • ● Ask someone from your family or friends to drop and pick you up from the hospital.
  • ● Take your regular medications with clear water and that too as early in the day as possible.
  • ● Don’t consume tobacco or smoke on the day of the procedure.

The following pointers must be kept in mind during the Radiofrequency Ablation procedure:

  • ● It is an outpatient procedure; hence, you would be discharged on the same day from the hospital.
  • ● The healthcare professional would follow all the necessary steps required for the procedure and treatment of targeted nerve tissue.

The following are tips to recover soon after the Radiofrequency Ablation procedure:

  • ● Use an ice pack at the injection site (place the pack on the site for 20 minutes).
  • ● Do not use a heating pad on the injection site.
  • ● Avoid taking a bath for two days.
  • ● Take a warm water shower after 24 hours of the procedure.

What Are the Result Associated with Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment?

Radiofrequency Ablation is not a permanent fix to the neck or back pain. Some patients diagnosed with nerve damage may have short-term pain relief, while others might get relief from the pain after several months. However, the treatment would not necessarily improve the pain and function of the body.

What Are the Risk Associated with Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment?

Some of the common side effects associated with Radiofrequency Ablation are:

  • ● Temporary pain at the site of the procedure
  • ● Temporary numbness

Some of the serious complications that are rare associated with Radiofrequency Ablation are:

  • ● Infection
  • ● Nerve damage
  • ● Bleeding

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Which Type of Healthcare Professional Performs the Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure?

The Radiofrequency Ablation procedure is performed by radiologists, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and neurologists.

On Whom Does a Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure Should not be Performed?

The Radiofrequency Ablation procedure should not be performed on patients who have an infection, have bleeding problems, and women who are pregnant.

What Precautions Should be Taken After a Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure?

Use an ice pack and take shower with warm water in addition to the medications prescribed by the healthcare professional after a Radiofrequency Ablation procedure.

Is the Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure Safe?

The Radiofrequency Ablation procedure is safe and effective for the treatment of some forms of pain. The procedure has very few complications of bleeding and infection at the insertion site.

What all Conditions are Treated With the Radiofrequency Procedure?

The Radiofrequency Ablation procedure is used for the treatment of chronic lower back and neck pain, and pain that is related to the degeneration of joints.
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