Why Radiofrequency Ablation May be the Solution to Your Chronic Back Pain

You can develop back pain for a variety of reasons, including muscle strains, ligament strains, bulging or ruptured discs, and skeletal irregularities, such as scoliosis. It’s also common to start having back pain as you grow older because of degenerative issues in your spine, such as osteoarthritis. Because there are so many different causes of back pain, there’s no one-size-fits-all course of treatment when back pain strikes. That’s why it’s crucial to get an accurate diagnosis to determine the most effective treatment for you. As a leader in pain management solutions, Dr. Ajith Nair at Kentuckiana Pain Specialists in Louisville and Elizabethtown, Kentucky, has advanced training in diagnosing and treating all types of chronic pain, especially pain affecting the back and neck. We also offer the most innovative treatments available, such as radiofrequency ablation.

The causes of back pain

When muscle or ligament strains cause back pain, it can be common to experience soreness, limited range of motion, spasms, and other symptoms. Because these types of injuries involve soft tissue, they often respond to hot and cold therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and rest. Other causes of back pain can involve surrounding nerves and nerve roots, which may require different forms of treatment. This type of back pain can often cause additional symptoms, including: Radiating pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness Shooting, stabbing, or electrical jolts of pain Pain that improves when you lean forward slightly or recline Discomfort that worsens when you do certain things, such as sneeze, stand, or bend Back and neck issues that involve your nerves often include spinal disc problems, skeletal irregularities, osteoporosis, or osteoarthritis. When your chronic back pain hasn’t responded to conservative treatments, such as medication, physical therapy, or epidural injections, we might recommend radiofrequency ablation.

Radiofrequency ablation for chronic back pain

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), or rhizotomy, is a specialized pain management technique that uses heat to destroy specific nerve tissue to disrupt their pain signals. Before performing this procedure, we perform diagnostic nerve testing to locate the exact nerve causing your chronic pain. During RFA, we administer medication to help you relax, and we numb the treatment site with local anesthetic. Then, we use a special X-ray to insert a thin needle into the area of your spine where the nerves are causing you pain. Once in place, we guide a tiny electrode through the needle to the nerve tissue. This electrode delivers the energy needed to disable the nerve tissue so they stop sending pain signals to your brain. RFA is minimally invasive and usually takes less than 45 minutes. After a short recovery period, you can go home, but you should rest for 24 hours and avoid driving. You may have mild pain or numbness in the treatment area, but this should fade quickly.

The benefits of radiofrequency ablation

More than 70% of men and women who receive RFA experience pain relief. Additional advantages of this treatment include:

  • Little to no recovery time
  • Pain relief within 1-3 weeks
  • Improved range of motion and function
  • Less need for pain medication
  • The ability to avoid or delay surgical treatments

Over time, the nerve tissue we treat with RFA can regenerate, but your pain may or may not return. Because of this, RFA can provide pain relief that lasts anywhere from six months to three years, depending on the cause of your discomfort. 

To see if radiofrequency ablation can treat your chronic back pain, call Kentuckiana Pain Specialists or request an appointment online today.