Radiofrequency Ablation: A Drug-Free Remedy for Chronic Back Pain

When you’re living with chronic back pain, getting rid of your pain meds can feel like wishful thinking. But, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can offer long-term relief and help you ditch your prescriptions for good. 

At Morris Medical Center, Dareld Morris II, DO, and our team offer personalized and innovative treatments to improve the health and quality of life of our patients. If you have chronic back pain, RFA could be the answer you’ve been searching for.

When medication and rest aren’t enough

You can have back pain for a wide variety of reasons, such as muscle or ligament injuries, disc problems, or nerve pain. It’s usually easy to recognize soft tissue injuries, because they typically cause localized pain and respond to anti-inflammatory medications, hot and cold compresses, and rest. 

Other types of back pain, however, can develop because of more serious problems. These issues often include skeletal irregularities, osteoporosis, or osteoarthritis. If you have these types of back injuries, they often cause additional signs, including:

When you have symptoms like these, they often indicate the involvement of nerves or nerve roots. If you haven’t found relief from more conservative treatments — such as prescription medications, physical therapy, or interventional injections — we might recommend RFA.

Eliminating back pain at the source

Radiofrequency ablation is a specialized pain management procedure. This minimally invasive therapy works by delivering a precise amount of heat to the specific nerve sending pain signals to your brain. By doing this, we disable the nerve, which stops the pain signals from being sent. 

Before performing RFA, we conduct extensive nerve testing to identify the problematic nerve. During your procedure, you receive medication to keep you relaxed as well as a topical anesthetic to numb the treatment site. 

To perform the procedure, we use special X-ray guidance to place a needle near the nerve. Then a tiny RFA electrode is inserted through the needle and placed near the nerve. Finally, heat is delivered through the electrode to the tissue for 60-90 seconds, thus disabling the nerve.

Radiofrequency ablation usually takes 30-90 minutes, and you can go home the same day. We recommend resting for the first 24 hours. It’s common to have mild numbness or pain at the treatment site, but this should go away quickly.

What to expect from RFA

With RFA, some studies show that more than 70% of people experience pain relief. Beyond that, RFA can help in a number of ways, including:

When you have RFA, you can expect to have pain relief within 1-3 weeks. Furthermore, relief can last anywhere from 6-12 months to several years.

To see if RFA could be the drug-free remedy for your chronic back pain, book an appointment online or over the phone with Morris Medical Center today.

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