If you suffer from chronic pain, you may have heard of radiofrequency ablation as a possible solution. But what is it? A minimally invasive surgery called radiofrequency thermal ablation (RFA) is used to treat chronic pain issues. So, if you live with painful symptoms, consider this a great option. If you want to make the most of this treatment, knowing what it involves is important. Here’s what to expect during the radiofrequency ablation process.
What Is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that uses radio waves to warm nerve tissue to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. Radiofrequency energy passes through electrodes placed near the affected area, causing the veins to heat up and become numb. This prevents them from sending pain signals, thereby providing long-term relief from chronic pain caused by conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, and other musculoskeletal disorders. During the radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedure, you can expect the following:
After changing into a hospital gown, you will be required to recline on an examination table. The area to be treated will be cleaned, and you may receive a local anesthetic to numb the area.
The procedure is often done using fluoroscopy (a type of X-ray) or ultrasound guidance. This helps the doctor accurately place the needle electrode.
Depending on the complexity and location of the ablation, you may be given a mild sedative to help you relax. Some people prefer to stay awake during the procedure.
A thin needle electrode is inserted through the skin and positioned next to the targeted tissue or nerve. You may feel some pressure or discomfort at this stage.
Radiofrequency Energy Application:
Once the electrode is in place, a low-voltage current is passed through it to create heat. This heat destroys the targeted tissue or nerve, interrupting its ability to transmit pain signals.
Monitoring And Evaluation:
Throughout the procedure, your vital signs and pain levels will be monitored. The doctor may ask you about any sensations or discomfort you experience during the ablation.
Recovery And Discharge:
After the procedure, you will be monitored for a short time before you are usually allowed to go home. You will receive instructions on aftercare, including pain management and any restrictions on activities.
What Happens During An RFA Procedure?
The first step expected during the radiofrequency ablation procedure is to have your doctor or surgeon numb the area where they will insert the electrodes. Once you can’t feel the area, they will insert the electrodes into your skin and use X-ray imaging or ultrasound technology to place them in the right place. They will then send electrical pulses through electrodes to heat the target nerve tissue. This process typically takes 30 minutes to an hour depending on how many nerves need treatment. Afterward, your doctor will remove the electrodes and apply a bandage or gauze pad to your wound if necessary.
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to manage chronic pain by disrupting pain signals. It can provide long-lasting pain relief for certain conditions, such as arthritis, nerve pain, or spinal joint pain. The procedure is generally safe and well-tolerated by most patients. However, like any medical procedure, it carries some risks, such as infection, bleeding, or nerve damage. It is essential to discuss the potential benefits and risks with your healthcare provider before undergoing RFA.
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