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How Radiofrequency Ablation Can Treat Your Pain

How Radiofrequency Ablation Can Treat Your Pain

If you have chronic pain, you have plenty of company. The CDC estimates that about 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain and about 20 million have high-impact chronic pain, dealing with symptoms that limit life or work activities on a regular basis. 

Chronic pain can be hard to manage, especially over the long term. That’s partly because many treatments focus solely on managing symptoms without getting to the root source of pain.

At Pacific Sports and Spine in Eugene, Oregon, our team uses an array of treatment options for chronic pain, focusing on relieving symptoms while also treating the underlying source of discomfort. 

Radiofrequency ablation is one very effective treatment option for spinal pain and other painful musculoskeletal issues, helping to relieve pain deep at its source. Here’s how it works.

The science of radiofrequency ablation

Pain involves a signalling process between nerves near an area of tissue damage or injury and your brain. When you feel pain, signals are sent along nerve pathways to the brain, which interprets those signals as pain.

Radiofrequency (RF) ablation works to prevent pain by blocking those pain signals. During treatment, the RF ablation device emits bursts of RF energy, targeting nerves and nerve endings involved in transmitting pain signals. 

The heat generated during treatment causes controlled damage to those nerves, preventing them from sending pain signals to the brain. RF ablation is very precise, which means that while it’s strong enough to damage tiny nerve endings, it won’t harm surrounding healthy tissue.

RF ablation: treatment areas

We recommend radiofrequency ablation for patients with persistent or chronic pain whose symptoms haven’t been relieved by more conservative options. It’s also a good option if you want to avoid taking large or long-term doses of pain medication.

At Pacific Sports and Spine, we use RF ablation to relieve many types of chronic pain, including pain from:

In addition, RF ablation can be helpful in treating chronic knee pain and some types of persistent or recurrent headaches, including cervicogenic headaches due to neck or upper spine problems.

What to expect during your RF ablation treatment

RF ablation is a minimally invasive treatment that we perform in our office as an outpatient procedure. You receive a sedative to help you relax, so you need someone to drive you home afterward. Local anesthetics also help keep you comfortable throughout your treatment.

Once you’re relaxed, we insert a fine needle, advancing it to the site of tissue damage and pain. Real-time X-ray imaging technology helps ensure that we place the needle tip properly before RF energy is emitted. 

Once the needle is in place, a tiny electrode emits small bursts of RF energy. You may feel a slight tingling sensation. The entire procedure typically takes an hour or less.

Most of our patients experience pain relief within about a week, with results lasting up to a year or longer. Each patient’s results vary based on the cause of pain and other factors.

Learn if RF ablation is right for you

RF ablation can be a safe, effective treatment for patients with chronic pain due to nerve or spine issues, and we may use it for other types of pain, as well. To learn whether it’s a good choice for relieving your symptoms, call us to book an appointment today.

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