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Radiofrequency Ablation: Learn About This Drug-Free Solution for Neck, Back, and Joint Pain

Do you have arthritis in your neck, back, or joints? Are you tired of living with pain every time you bend or move? If so, radiofrequency ablation could be right for you.

Here at The Painless Center, with offices in Fort Lee and Carlstadt, New Jersey, Dr. Chi-Shin Jason Chiu and our highly trained team provide the latest state-of-the-art treatment options in interventional pain management and anesthesia. Whether your pain is from an injury, accident, or a degenerative disease, he can treat everything from arthritis and complex regional pain syndrome to sciatica, fibromyalgia, and more. Your unique needs will always be met with a customized treatment plan in our caring and compassionate office.

Radiofrequency ablation

Also called rhizotomy, radiofrequency ablation is a nonsurgical minimally invasive procedure often used to relieve chronic pain in the neck, back, knee, and pelvic area. Radiofrequency waves burn or "ablate" the nerve fibers that convey pain signals to the brain. When this nerve is destroyed, the pain messages are no longer transmitted, resulting in lasting relief.

There are numerous benefits to radiofrequency ablation, including the avoidance of surgery, less or no need for medications, little to no recovery time, and immediate pain relief.

Safety and efficacy

Radiofrequency ablation is a generally safe procedure with a low risk of complications. The amount of pain relief depends on several factors, including the pain's location and its cause. More than 7 out of 10 people who undergo the procedure experience relief, which can typically last from 6-12 months — and in some cases, for years.

The procedure

Prior to the procedure, you will meet with your doctor to review your medical history and imaging studies that have been done in order to determine the ideal location for the ablation. If you take medications, be sure to discuss them at this appointment, as aspirin and blood thinners may need to be stopped a few days before.

On the day of the treatment, the area is numbed with a local anesthetic. You remain awake in order to provide feedback, although you may be given a low-dose sedative.

Using a special X-ray known as a fluoroscope, the doctor moves a thin hollow needle into the area that’s causing the pain, while watching it in real time on a monitor. You may feel pressure while this occurs.

After the needle is in the correct location, a current moves through it to create a precise burn that destroys the part of the nerve that carries pain. This takes about 90 seconds and can be done on multiple nerves. 

Immediately after the procedure, most people are able to walk around, although you will need someone to drive you home. Typically, you can expect to return to your normal routine 24 to 72 hours after the radiofrequency ablation, but you may experience minor discomfort for up to 2 weeks. Most people find their pain relieved in about 10 days, though for some individuals it can happen immediately and for others it may take up to 3 weeks.

If you're tired of suffering from neck, back or joint pain, call one of our offices or book an appointment online to find out if radiofrequency ablation is right for you.

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