Radiofrequency Ablation: How Does It Deal With Neck Pain Management?

Radiofrequency ablation is a process using heat from high-energy electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic waves work to kill nerves that carry pain impulses. The procedure is used as a treatment option for people who tried therapeutic injections and found that it is only a temporary relief of neck pain. Many people claim that radiofrequency ablation for neck pain is the best treatment for relief.

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation or RFA is called in two other terms:

  • Radiofrequency neurotomy
  • Radiofrequency rhizotomy

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure using localized heat generated by radiofrequency waves, targeting specific tissues in the body. The RFA procedure is used to target and disrupt the small medial branch nerves that are responsible for transmitting pain signals from the facet joints that connect the bones in the spine. It can be performed to manage and reduce the chronic back and neck pain arising from the lumbar or cervical facet joints.

Procedure of radiofrequency ablation

The procedure of RFA for neck pain is performed by doctors by applying an anesthetic to the neck’s painful area. The needle is inserted to guide a small probe to the affected nerves. A special X-ray is used to provide a live video image of the spine to ensure the probe is placed properly. The doctor places several electrodes and conductors by which the electric current flows in the area.

The electrodes and probe are in place. A small amount of heat passes through the probe and into the nerves. The heat produces lesions on the painful area of the nerve that destroys the tissue and eliminates pain. A nerve pain that is caused by spinal stenosis, the RFA is effective for up to a year. The procedure takes less than an hour to perform and most people can return home on the same day.

Is RFA the same as nerve block?

RFA and nerve blocks are not the same. They are two different interventional pain management procedures to alleviate chronic pain. Both are performed using image guidance and needles, but they differ in duration and mechanism of relief. RFA uses heat to disrupt the ability of the nerve to transmit pain signals.

RFA is used for longer-lasting pain relief when other treatments are less effective. RFA and nerve blocks can have different impacts and targets on pain conditions. So, it is expected that the duration of the relief needed and the diagnostic goals of the intervention.