(RA) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat and local anesthesia to reduce or halt sensations of pain. For those with chronic pain, especially in the neck, lower back, and arthritic joints, it can provide lasting relief. If you suffer from recurring pain and respond well to nerve block injections, then you may wish to consider (RA).
As with most surgical procedures, you will need to give your healthcare provider a list of current medications, any medications to which you are allergic, and sign a form of consent. (RA) typically lasts 15-45 minutes and is followed by a short recovery period. Most ablation procedures include the following sequence of steps:
The patient lies down on an x-ray table and is given a local anesthetic to provide pain relief at the treatment area. Normally, the patient remains awake during (RA) and can give feedback to the performing doctor. In some cases, a low dose sedative such as Valium may be used. But, this is usually the only medication that is administered during (RA).
Using a fluoroscope, the doctor directs a small, hollow needle into the affected region. The fluoroscopy then allows the physician to watch the procedure in real-time via x-ray monitors. In this manner, your doctor can ensure that the correct areas are being treated. Some discomfort may occur during this step. But, most patients report a feeling of pressure more so than pain.
Once the needle is positioned at the affected area, the patient receives a numbing medication to reduce the severity of pain signals. Next, a radiofrequency (RF) current passes through the needle, creating a small lesion about the size of a pea. The current destroys the part of the nerve responsible for transmitting pain and thus disrupts the signal producing the pain. Each burn takes roughly 90 seconds for each area, and multiple nerves can be treated simultaneously.
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Compared to nerve stripping, (RA) uses much smaller incisions to treat the patient during surgery. More importantly, (RF) waves do not directly stimulate the heart muscle or nerves, which means that it can often be used without requiring general anesthetic. Because of this, it is much easier to treat the affected nerve tissue without any collateral damage.
Because of the smaller incisions, the recovery period for (RA) is much shorter than for traditional open procedures. This also means that less scarring occurs after the patient has fully recovered. Additionally, (RA) patients can usually go home mere hours after the procedure. Since the recovery period is shorter, the patient is able to return to their daily routine much quicker than with longer surgical operations. On top of this, the smaller incisions reduce the risk of complications such as bleeding, infection, and/or deep vein thrombosis.
Your doctor may also recommend that you wear compression stockings, walk, exercise, and move around as much as possible to ensure a smooth recovery. For further questions, make sure that you contact your (RA) specialist.
Because (RA) is a minimally invasive procedure, there are fewer risks compared to traditional open surgery. That being said, there are still a small (though rare) risk of complications. These include the following:
Temporary side effects may include weakness or numbness in the legs, as well as swelling and bruising at the site of the incision.
As with any procedure, your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits with you prior to the treatment. Your doctor will go to great lengths to ensure that you are fully educated about (RA).
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(RA) may be right for anyone with chronic pain that does not respond to other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy or pain medication. It is also a viable treatment for patients who have had successful experiences with nerve block injections. Since (RA) is performed using x-ray guidance, it should not be used on patients who have bleeding problems, infections, or are pregnant.
(RA) is a versatile treatment that can heal a variety of ailments. Such conditions are as follows:
(RA) can be used to treat tumors in the spine, liver, lung, kidney, bones, and other bodily organs. Once a tumor diagnosis is confirmed, the (RA) probe is placed inside the tumor. The affected area is then treated by passing (RF) waves through the probe, thus increasing the temperature within the tumor tissue and destroying it as a result. (RA) can be used on small tumors, tumors that have spread to other organs, and primary tumors. Whether or not (RA) is suitable for destroying a particular tumor depends on a number of factors. Sometimes, (RA) may be used as an outpatient procedure for those with certain types of cancers.
In some cases, (RA) can be used to treat chronic pain in the lower back. Here, (RF) waves are used on pinched nerves which causes them to heat up. As the nerves heat up, their ability to send pain signals to the brain is prevented. These nerves are identified through injections of local anesthesia prior to (RA). It is important to note that the drawback for (RA) here is that nerves recover function over time. As a result, pain relief achieved through (RA) typically lasts 3-15 months for most patients.
(RA) can also be used to treat this condition as an alternative to the traditional stripping method. In vein stripping, the risks are much greater due to larger incisions–a problem not found in (RA). Using ultrasound, a (RF) catheter treats abnormal veins with radio energy. Afterward, branching veins are treated with other minimally invasive procedures. It is important to note that skin burns can occur during this treatment, though it is very rare.
If you are considering (RA) treatment for your condition, please contact one of our doctors at NJ Spine and Orthopedic. Our orthopedic team is dedicated to eliminating pain, discomfort, and other conditions that affect the neck and back through our gentle and minimally invasive methods.
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Effective pain relief; less scarring— a postage stamp-sized incision (less than an inch in length) is often all that it takes to eliminate your pain.
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