Radiofrequency ablation deactivates targeted nerves to help patients with treatment-resistant pain. Board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist George Drakes, MD, and his team at Metro Spine PC specialize in interventional pain techniques like radiofrequency ablation. The practice has offices in Clinton and Oxon Hill, Maryland, offering minimally invasive treatment on-site. Call your nearest Metro Spine PC office today or schedule a consultation online to learn more about benefiting from radiofrequency ablation.
Minimally invasive radiofrequency ablation can help reduce treatment-resistant pain. Your doctor inserts a needle that carries a probe to the targeted nerves. The probe delivers radiofrequency energy to the nerves to stop pain signals from getting to your brain.
Metro Spine PC uses two kinds of radiofrequency ablation: Standard radiofrequency ablation uses heat to destroy the nerves. Pulsed RFA (pRFA) stuns the nerves rather than destroying them.
The Metro Spine PC team might recommend radiofrequency ablation if you have a long-term pain condition and other treatments aren’t helping.
Conservative treatments like physical therapy and medication help many patients. Others require steroid injections or restorative medicine treatments like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and prolotherapy. If your pain remains despite these treatments, radiofrequency ablation can help.
Radiofrequency ablation is suitable for conditions causing back, neck, muscle, and joint pain, including herniated discs and spinal stenosis. It also helps with pain disorders like complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
Before you undergo radiofrequency ablation, your doctor determines if the treatment will work by using a nerve block injection containing a local anesthetic. If you achieve at least 50% pain relief for a few hours after a nerve block, radiofrequency ablation will likely be effective.
To do radiofrequency ablation, your doctor numbs the skin at the injection site. They insert another needle through the numb tissue, using fluoroscopic (moving X-ray) imaging guidance to ensure accurate placement.
Your doctor places an electrode into the needle’s center when it’s in place. They apply the electrical current to test the nerve’s sensory stimulation (pain and other feelings) and motor stimulation (movement). This confirms the needle is correctly positioned. Your doctor then delivers electrical energy to reduce nerve function.
Radiofrequency ablation takes about 30 minutes, including preparation and recovery time.
After a few minutes of recovery, you can go home. You could experience some discomfort when the local anesthetic wears off. The day after radiofrequency ablation, you can carefully return to regular activities.
The treated area will likely be sore for 1-4 days. This is usually due to muscle spasms and nerve irritation caused by the heat lesion. It can take 7-14 days for the tenderness to completely disappear. The entire treatment effects take 3-6 weeks. Pain relief lasts from six months to several years.