Radiofrequency Ablation for Back Pain: What You Need to Know

If you suffer from chronic back pain and want a longer-term solution than simple injections or nerve blocks can provide, radiofrequency ablation may be your answer.

What is radiofrequency ablation (RFA)?

RFA is a minimally invasive medical procedure in which a small electrical current, produced by a radio wave, is used to heat up a small area of nerve tissue. These targeted nerves are first numbed using a local anesthetic. This helps minimize any pain while a lesion is created. Next, the nerves are heated to disrupt the nerve’s ability to send pain signals back to the brain.

While radiofrequency ablation disables nerves from conducting pain for six months to a year or more, the solution is not permanent. When the nerves grow back, the pain may return and require an additional RFA treatment.

Is RFA right for me?

If you suffer from chronic back pain that isn’t effectively relieved by medications, physical therapy or injections, your pain specialist may recommend RFA. This procedure may also help alleviate increased pain with lifting or twisting movements. Here are a few other conditions that may be best treated with an RFA procedure:

  • Whiplash
  • Left and/or right side lower back pain
  • Back pain that extends through the buttock and thigh regions

What are the possible side effects of RFA?

There are several potential side effects of RFA. They can include:

  • Superficial burning pain (similar to a sunburn) around the treated areas lasting up to two weeks
  • Hypersensitivity around the treated areas lasting up to two weeks
  • Temporary numbness can sometimes follow the aforementioned two-week burning and hypersensitivity period
  • Permanent nerve pain
  • Bleeding
  • Allergies or other reactions to RFA medications or anesthesia
  • Infection

Chronic pain isn’t something you have to live with. Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive, fast procedure that can help relieve your pain and help you feel better. Our team of skilled pain care specialists at The Pain Treatment Center can help decrease pain signals from the spine to the brain. Contact us at 601-268-8698 to find out if radiofrequency ablation is right for you.