Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment in Northern New Jersey
Chronic back pain can be a constant source of stress and frustration for patients. Certain spine conditions can cause back pain that makes it difficult to sit or stand for long periods. In some cases, the pain can wake a patient up at night. By eliminating the pain signals that a nerve sends to the brain, radiofrequency ablation can be an effective form of pain management. Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics, located in New Jersey, offers this procedure for patients with back and spinal pain.
What Is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to interrupt pain signals. Using radiofrequency waves delivered via a needle, a pain management doctor can stop the tiny portion of a nerve that is causing pain. RFA can be used to treat conditions such as:
- Facet Joint Disease – The spine is comprised of 33 vertebral bones connected via facet joints. There are 4 facet joints on each vertebral body. These joints can become damaged and pinch the nerve between the adjacent facets.
- Medial Branch Nerve – There are multiple medial branch nerves that course through each facet joint. When the medial branch nerve becomes entrapped by the surrounding bones, it sends off pain signals that causes the patient to feel neck or back pain depending on which level of the spine the medial branch nerve is pinched.
- Sacroiliitis: This is an inflammation the sacroiliac joints which is where the pelvis connects to the base or sacral region of the spine. Sacroiliitis causes pain in the lower back and buttocks which might radiates down the upper posterior part of the thigh. This condition can develop as a result of the normal aging process, or because of a traumatic injury to the spine, such as an automobile accident or sports injury
- Spondylosis: This is a form of arthritis that can occur as a person ages. Spondylosis can affect the facet joints of the spine where the vertebral bodies connect. It can cause axial neck or back pain as well as a host of other spine related conditions including radiculopathy.
Because RFA often is used to treat pain emanating from the facet joints in the lumbar spine, it is sometimes referred to as .
After a thorough physical evaluation of the neck and spine, if the facet joint is identified as the most probably location of the pain, the best way to confirm the source of their pain is with a diagnostic block called a medial branch nerve block or a facet joint injection. For this procedure, a pain management doctor injects a local anesthetic and steroid at the site of the medial nerve that is suspected as the cause of pain. If the injection provides significant pain relief, the source of pain is confirmed, and the patient likely will benefit from an RFA procedure.
If a patient does not feel any pain relief from a diagnostic block, RFA will not be an effective and should not be pursued. These patients may benefit from other forms of treatment, such as:
- Oral medication
- Trigger point injections
- Physical therapy to strengthen back muscles
- Basivertebral Nerve Ablation
- Spine surgery
Procedure and Recovery
Before RFA, a patient may need to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners. Patients also may need to fast for a few hours before the procedure. Radiofrequency ablation is non-surgical and usually lasts no more than one hour. For some patients, the procedure can be completed in as little as 15 minutes.
For the RFA procedure an anesthesiologist can provide IV sedation so the patient is comfortable but breathing on their own. General anesthesia is not required. During the procedure, the patient will lie face down on an X-ray table. First, the pain management doctor will apply a local anesthetic to numb the skin and surrounding tissue. Next, they will insert a thin needle into the site of the patient’s pinched nerve, using X-ray guidance to ensure accurate placement. The facet joint will then have a small needle placed within it that transmits radiofrequency waves to heat the targeted medial nerve. The radiofrequency current burns a tiny portion of the nerve so that it can no longer send pain signals to the brain.
The patient will return home the same day within half an hour after the procedure has been completed. The patient will need someone else to drive them home since they had anesthesia. Patients must avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours after an RFA procedure.
Mild discomfort, soreness, and swelling at the treatment site might occur but quickly resolve. It can be treated with an ice pack or pain medication. More serious side effects, such as infection, are extremely rare. After treatment, the patient will have a follow-up appointment to review their progress. They will also benefit from a course of structured physical therapy to improve the paraspinal muscle strength around the treated area.
Radiofrequency ablation allows patients to avoid surgery and minimize recovery time while offering significant pain relief. As confirmed by Johns Hopkins Medicine, about 70% of radiofrequency nerve ablation patients experience pain relief that lasts for a year or more. If RFA is not effective, a patient may be a candidate for basivertebral nerve ablation or spine surgery.
An Expert Medical Team
When a patient chooses CNSO, they can be confident about the quality of their care. The CNSO medical team includes pain management specialists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists who work in collaboration to ensure that patients receive personalized care and coordinated treatment. Additionally, CNSO has medical providers and staff who speak the following languages, in addition to English:
- Mandarin Chinese
Since 2008, CNSO has treated patients for any type of neck pain, back pain. CNSO prides itself on the number of patients who seek a second opinion and chose to have their care with CNSO. Each new patient’s first visit to a CNSO location includes a 45 minute to one-hour consultation so a physician can thoroughly review symptoms, medical history, and previous testing results before producing a treatment plan. Follow-up appointments typically require significantly less time because our patients’ symptoms are resolved!
Choose CNSO for Expert Spine Care
For the latest innovations in pain management, turn to CNSO. The pain management team at CNSO is experienced in treatment options like radiofrequency ablation that can offer opiate-free pain relief for patients with chronic back pain. Located in Northern New Jersey and serving patients in the surrounding area with in-person and telemedicine appointments, CNSO is the state’s most comprehensive brain, back, and spine care center. To learn more or schedule a consultation, contact CNSO today.