Technological advances are allowing physicians to better treat patients using methods that are replacing older, ineffective, and unpleasant treatments.
Radiofrequency nerve ablation is a cutting-edge technique that is providing relief and improved quality of life for people around the globe. It has been around for years but researchers and physicians continue to advance the technology to improve its application.
More and more people are beginning to see and feel the benefits of radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
For some people, it is possible to attain lasting relief using this safe and proven method.
There are numerous ways this procedure can be applied depending on the specific needs of each patient.
What Is Ablation?
Ablation is a technical term and refers to the removal or destruction of material. It is a process that occurs in nature and in different industries to meet any number of needs. This can be done using many different devices ranging stone aged tools to lasers.
Chipping or shaving away at something similar to the way a whittler carves a solid piece of wood into art can be considered one of the simplest and oldest forms of ablation.
Modern ablation techniques can be applied with extreme precision using radio frequencies, lasers, and other types of waves. For example, laser ablation used in analytical procedures, such as mass spectrometry, is employed in virtually every industry.
Ablation in Medicine
Now, physicians have advanced methods to safely use ablation as for a number of therapeutic goals
Laser eye surgery (LASIK) has allowed millions of people to see using laser ablation. Dermabrasion is another type of medical ablation.
Physicians and other specialists employ RFA to treat medical issues requiring extreme precision ranging from heart problems to cancer. Today, they are changing the lives of people living with chronic pain.
History of Radiofrequency Ablation in Medicine
Martin Kirschner was a German surgeon who pioneered treatments in several fields. He is credited with being the first to use RFA when he treated a patient’s trigeminal neuralgia with a simple electrode back in 1931.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the technology was made commercially available throughout the United States and abroad.
Investigators then discovered its usefulness in a variety of applications. During the late 60s an early 70s, it began to be used to treat cardiac arrhythmias, replacing dangerous open-heart surgeries that relied on more primitive tools.
Lumbar RFA, or spinal ablation therapy, was first used in 1975 for chronic lower back pain. Now it is a highly trusted and used throughout the world with great success.
How Radiofrequency Ablation Works?
This therapy uses what is known as a ‘medium-frequency alternating current’ to generate heat. This heat is then applied wherever the tissue requiring ablation is located.
This can sometimes be performed in an outpatient setting, such as at a clinic or an emergency room. However, some procedures are done in the operating room under full anesthesia.
Sometimes, a special tube is used to visualize and ablate tissues that are difficultly reached otherwise. For example, RFA can be performed endoscopically and ablation for cardiac arrhythmias is generally done via a catheter.
RFA Procedures for Pain
Millions of Americans and people across the globe struggle with chronic pain. Back pain and joint pain are consistently within the top three reasons that people see a doctor.
Pain relief is a multibillion-dollar industry. Americans spend countless amounts of money on over the counter drugs and prescription medications. Aside from the financial burden on families, this leads to numerous and potentially serious side effects.
Too many communities have felt the effects of the opioid crisis. Opioid pain killers are often prescribed for chronic pain but history shows the dangers of relying on these medications.
Fortunately, RFA can help people living with chronic pain by treating the cause rather than masking the symptoms with drugs. There is great potential to relieve the burden of pain medications on the public.
Is RFA Safe?
RFA is considered to be a minimally invasive procedure with a low risk of adverse events. This means that it is very safe and there are few to no complications following the procedure.
Burning, tingling, numbness, and redness may be experienced near the injection site. Rarely, a hypersensitivity reaction can occur in patients that have a specific allergy to some component of the RFA device.
However, these are generally not serious and go away after a few days. Your doctor will explain what to do if these symptoms worsen or persist.
These risks are similar to that of an injection procedure.
This is a therapy that uses RFA applied somewhere on the spine, most commonly near the lumbar region of the vertebral column. The cervical region may be targeted in cases of chronic neck pain.
An insulated needle is inserted in order to reach the problematic nerve. The current travels through the needle and is channeled to produce heat at the very tip.
The heated needle tip ablates the section of the nerve that needs to be removed. This stops the transmission of pain signals originating in the lower back.
Is RFA for Me?
Only a physician can determine if RFA is appropriate for each case. They will take a detailed history for your symptoms, perform a physical exam, and may even order tests.
Some patients experience pain due to specific causes that are better treated using another method. These must be ruled out first for the safety of the patient.
Generally speaking, RFA is reserved for cases of chronic pain that affects certain joints in the spine (lasting more than three months) that don’t respond to other, simpler treatments. Your physician may recommend lifestyle changes, physical therapy, or medication.
However, if your pain persists you should consider consulting with a physician specializing in RFA.
Let Nerve Ablation Change Your Life
Don’t allow pain to define you or control what you can and can’t do. There is a pathway to a pain-free life. Come talk to a specialist in radiofrequency nerve ablation for a consultation. They have been specially trained in the treatment of pain and have years of expertise with these types of interventions.