If you have struggled with chronic pain, you have probably wished that you could destroy the nerves that are producing those sensations. Whether your pain is caused by a real injury or your nerves are erroneously sending pain impulses due to a neuropathic condition, you may desire a way to turn off those nerves with a procedure called neuroablation.
Not surprisingly, pain doctors have developed a way of doing just that. Using neuroablation, also known as radiofrequency ablation therapy (or RFA), pain doctors can destroy a nerve that is constantly firing off pain signals. This minimally invasive procedure can provide relief for up to a year before the nerve grows back. Radiofrequency neuroablation therapy is the most commonly performed neuroablation procedure and involves the application of an electrode to cauterize the nerve.
If you suffer from chronic neck, back or even peripheral pain, or if you have joint pain due to arthritis, you may be a candidate for a neuroablation procedure. The successfulness of the procedure is contingent upon the accurate identification of the affected nerve. Your pain doctor will make a determination about whether you are a candidate for this kind of procedure after reviewing your medical history. The treating provider may also ask you to undergo some tests including a MRI or CT scan to help identify the cause of your pain. Most patients who choose to undergo a neuroablation procedure have already tried other, more conservative treatments like anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy or chiropractic treatment.
In preparation for the procedure, your physician may perform a nerve block to identify the problematic nerve. A nerve block will inject an anesthetic into the area around a nerve to mute the pain. If performed correctly, your pain should diminish upon anesthetization.
After your pain doctor has pinpointed the nerve issue, x-ray guidance is utilized in order to accurately locate the target site. Then a radiofrequency electrode is placed on or near the nerve. Once the placement is confirmed with xray, the treatment can begin.
The neuroablation procedure itself involves anesthetization of the nerve region. Then your physician will apply a heating, electrical current for about 90 seconds to each nerve site. Depending upon the number of nerves targeted, this procedure may take from 20 to 60 minutes to complete, and most patients can walk out of the procedure immediately afterwards.
During the neuroablation procedure, you may feel a tingling or mild pressure; you should not feel any great discomfort. You may experience some pain for up to two weeks after the procedure due to nerve cauterization or muscle spasms. Most patients do not experience any side effects other than temporary nerve pain or numbness, but a few select patients may experience an infection or allergic reaction to the medications used. Neuroablation is effective in about 70 to 80 percent of patients. If you do begin to experience nerve pain again due to nerve regrowth, this procedure may be repeated for similar results.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.