Radiofrequency Ablation for Joint Pain

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 29, 2015

thoracic vertebraeRadiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure typically used to treat pain in the facet or sacroiliac joints. In this blog post we are going to take an in-depth look at radiofrequency ablation as a procedure. We will examine what the procedure entails, and when it can be a useful treatment option for relieving joint pain.

What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

So what exactly is a radiofrequency ablation? The procedure itself involves a local anesthetic and mild sedative to make the patient more comfortable during the procedure. Then a small radiofrequency needle is inserted into the back and guided to the specific nerve or nerves that are causing the patient pain. Using radiofrequency waves, the tip of the needle creates a heat lesion that impedes the nerves ability to send pain signals to the patient’s brain. In short, the goal of the procedure is to kill off specific nerves in the spine to stop them from sending pain signals, thus preventing pain.

The ablation procedure is aimed at treating either the facet joints or the sacroiliac joints. The facet joints are located at each vertebral level of the spine, whereas the sacroiliac joints are located at the bottom of the spine near the pelvis.

When is Radiofrequency Ablation a Good Treatment Option?

Radiofrequency ablation can be a good option for patients who have tried more conservative methods, but do not want to move forward with spine surgery. The procedure is considered safe, but there is a possibility that it will not successfully relieve pain in the patient. Over time, the nerves will regenerate, and the old pain may or may not return as well.

Treating pain is a complex science. Radiofrequency ablation is just one of many treatment options. If you are having back pain that interferes with your daily routine, make an appointment with your physician to identify the source of the pain and find out what treatment options are right for you.

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