Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation Procedure for Chronic Pain

Source: Mayo Clinic

Radiofrequency nerve ablation is a procedure that uses electromagnetic waves to desensitize painful nerves by interrupting signals sent to the brain. It is a safe and efficient way to reduce chronic pain for extended periods of time.

How is the procedure done?

The procedure is performed as an outpatient procedure in an operating room and usually takes around an hour. A doctor will use X-rays to determine where the pain is located and the patient will be given a local anesthetic. The doctor will then place a small insulated needle called a cannula under the skin near the painful nerves. An electric current is sent to the cannula to destroy the nerve; therefore, it can no longer send pain signals to the brain.

How long does pain relief last?

Pain relief generally lasts for around six to nine months and may return as the nerve tries to grow back.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

Most patients are advised to avoid eating or drinking for at least eight hours before the procedure. Any patient scheduled for sedation will need to have a driver take them home afterward. Medications for high blood pressure and any heart condition will need to be taken as prescribed with a small sip of water before the procedure. Blood thinning medications should be discussed with a doctor as these may cause excessive bleeding.

What do I do after the treatment?

Rest is the best way to recover after treatment. Pain at the injection site may be relieved with icing. Patients who received intravenous sedation should refrain from operating a vehicle the day after the procedure. Some patients may return to work the next day while others are instructed to take time off.

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