Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is one popular way to treat arthritis pain, in part because relief is often long-term. Let’s look at effectiveness, safety, and the step-by-step procedure.

Using radio waves, an electrical current is directed into a section of nerve tissue to reduce the number of pain signals the area is generating.

The RFA treatment is commonly used for arthritis pain, along with pain conditions in the neck and lower back.

How effective is radiofrequency ablation?

Results vary from patient to patient with this treatment as with any other. The cause of the pain and its location in the body will impact the speed with which recovery can occur.

However, some patients really do see incredible results. The pain can actually go away for six months or even years. WebMD’s data shows that over 7 out of every 10 patients get some pain-reduction with this strategy.

Is RFA treatment safe?

Radiofrequency ablation is safe, and there are rarely any complications. On rare occasions, patients experience bleeding or infection. It’s also possible that you might get a bruise or inflammation at the insertion site that goes away within a few days.

How do you get ready for this treatment?

There are a couple things you need to be aware of in terms of preparation, according to anesthesiologist Ray M. Baker, MD. “On the day of the procedure,” he says, “patients are advised to avoid driving and avoid doing any strenuous activities.” In terms of medication, you can keep taking your regular prescriptions except for blood-thinning drugs, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and Coumadin.

What are the steps?

When you get ablation or neurotomy to treat arthritis pain, here is the step-by-step procedure, which typically takes 30-90 minutes:

  1. Sometimes an intravenous (IV) line is set up so that you can be sedated.
  2. While you lie on a treatment table, the skin of the area is cleaned thoroughly.
  3. Anesthetic is introduced for numbing.
  4. The doctor guides a specially designed needle toward the lateral branch or medial nerves using fluoroscopy.
  5. Just a bit of electrical current is sent through the needle to make sure that it is alongside the correct nerve.
  6. Numbing medication is introduced to the nerves so that you aren’t in discomfort when a lesion is produced.
  7. Finally, “[t]he radiofrequency waves are introduced to heat the tip of the needle,” says Dr. Baker, “and a heat lesion is created on the nerve to disrupt the nerve’s ability to send pain signals.”
  8. The same process is repeated for other nerves as well.

Compassionate pain relief

Do you think radiofrequency ablation might be the right choice to treat your arthritis pain? At Health Star Clinic, we don’t just offer expert treatment. Our goal is to create a warm, fun and loving environment where you can be energized, revitalized and stimulated. Experience the Health Star Difference.