Radiofrequency ablation is a method of safely switching off the nerves that send pain signals to your brain. If conservative treatments aren’t easing your chronic pain, double board-certified pain management specialist Glenn Flanagan, MD, of Naples Regenerative Institute in Naples, Florida, can help. Dr. Flanagan offers radiofrequency ablation for back, neck, knee, and shoulder pain that can give you long-term symptom relief. Call Naples Regenerative Institute today to find out more or book an appointment online.
Radiofrequency (RF) ablation, also known as radiofrequency neurotomy, is a minimally invasive nonpharmaceutical treatment option for patients with chronic pain.
Radiofrequency ablation works by destroying the nerve endings that are causing your pain using heat from radiofrequency energy. The heat is fully controllable and won’t damage the surrounding tissues. If the nerves can’t transmit their signals to your brain, you don’t feel pain in the area the nerves control.
The pain relief radiofrequency ablation provides is long-lasting, with results typically continuing for a period of nine months to two years. Eventually, the treated nerves are likely to regrow, at which time you might need further radiofrequency ablation treatments.
Radiofrequency ablation is an effective treatment for patients who aren’t getting relief from other approaches like physical therapy and regenerative medicine (stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma injections). The three main conditions for which Dr. Flanagan uses radiofrequency ablation are:
The facet joints in your spine are small connectors that link your vertebrae. Arthritis in these joints results from damage to the protective surfaces of the bones that causes chronic back or neck pain and stiffness. Spinal radiofrequency ablation can effectively treat facet joint arthritis and other painful spine conditions.
Persistent knee pain, usually from arthritis, might respond to genicular radiofrequency ablation, where Dr. Flanagan targets the nerves in your knee joint.
The suprascapular nerve in your shoulder is responsible for pain signals going to your brain when you have conditions like arthritis, shoulder instability, and cuff tear arthropathy. Radiofrequency ablation of the suprascapular nerve could ease your shoulder pain.
Before you have radiofrequency ablation, Dr. Flanagan carries out a diagnostic nerve block, injecting a local anesthetic into the nerve he intends to treat. If the injection reduces your pain, Dr. Flanagan knows this is the correct nerve to treat with radiofrequency ablation.
Radiofrequency ablation requires the insertion of a needle into the affected vertebra or joint. Dr. Flanagan is guided through the process with imaging technology, which gives him a clear view of the needle’s location. When the needle is in position, Dr. Flanagan sends radiofrequency waves through it to heat and damage the target nerve.
Following radiofrequency ablation, you can go home and rest, returning to work in one to three days. You might experience an immediate reduction in pain, but patients typically find optimal results take about ten days to achieve.