Radiofrequency denervation

What is radiofrequency denervation?

Radiofrequency denervation is an alternative treatment to treat all pain related to the neck and lower back. The denervation is carried out with the use of radio waves that, by heat energy destroy the nerves that are around the spine that generate pain. It’s also known as radiofrequency ablation or facet rhizolysis.

Why is radiofrequency denervation done?

Radiofrequency is done to combat pain generated by natural wear and tear, back injuries, disc wear and arthritis, among other problems. It’s only used when other treatments and physiotherapy have failed.

Radiofrequency solves health problems such as:

  • Cervical pain
  • Lower back pain

What does radiofrequency denervation involve?

The patient lies on their stomach and the area is numbed. A small thin tube is inserted into the spine over the neck or in the lower back. A special X-ray called a fluoroscope is used to lead the tube to the right place. A wire is then introduced through the tube that is connected to a radio wave generating machine that heats up and removes the nerve.

Preparation for radiofrequency denervation

No special preparation is needed for the test. The treatment can also be carried out alongside other conservative treatments and physiotherapy exercises.

After the procedure

Patients are taken to a recovery room after their procedure to be monitored and may have to lie flat for about 30 minutes or more. Normally they’ll be able to go home after one to three hours but will need someone to drive them home and stay with them for 24 hours. Side effects after the procedure can include numbness, a tingling sensation, mild bruising and tenderness.

Patients may experience pain after the procedure, but this should disappear within one to two weeks. After two weeks patients will begin to notice an improvement in their pain. Patients may also feel a tingling sensation around the area that was operated on. It is likely that the nerve will grow back, but it will not cause as much pain as it did prior to the procedure.

If a headache or fever develops or ongoing numbness or weakness is felt, call the hospital and let them know right away.

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