Could Your Chronic Back Pain Benefit from Radiofrequency Ablation?

With the back's complex combination of bones, joints, spinal discs, soft tissues, and muscles, it's no wonder things can go wrong. In fact, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Accidents, injuries, and even just bending or twisting the wrong way can cause sprains and strains, as well as ruptured discs and long-lasting joint trouble. Other issues, such as poor posture, arthritis, carrying extra weight, and psychological distress, can also result in discomfort. Fortunately, back pain can usually be resolved within a few weeks with simple home remedies.

For people whose discomfort doesn't go away on its own, however, there are numerous treatment options available. The pain specialists at Metro Denver Pain Management in Greenwood Village, Parker, and Thornton, Colorado assess your pain levels, flexibility, and range of motion in developing an individualized treatment plan tailored to address your specific condition.

Back pain remedies may include simple over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as physical therapy, including exercises to increase flexibility and strengthen the abdominal and back muscles. Sometimes, however, more advanced treatments like radiofrequency ablation can provide more long-lasting back pain relief.

What is radiofrequency ablation?

First used in 1975 to treat low back pain, radiofrequency ablation uses a high-frequency electrical current to create heat in a small targeted area of nerve tissue. The treatment succeeds in offering relief by disrupting pain signals.

Patients typically remain awake during the procedure, which uses only local anesthesia. Your provider uses X-ray imaging to guide the small needle to the affected area then inserts a microelectrode through the needle.

Many people feel a tingling sensation, which helps you know that the electrode is in the right place. Once the electrode placement has been confirmed, a small current is relayed into the tissue through the electrode.

How successful is radiofrequency ablation?

The amount of pain relief you’ll experience after radiofrequency ablation varies based on the precise cause of your discomfort and the specific location of the pain, but over 70% of patients report a noticeable improvement in their chronic back pain after treatment.

Pain relief can last from six months to a year — even more in some cases — much longer than most other back pain treatments, such as nerve blocks or injections. The reduction in pain may also encourage you to become more active, which helps to build stronger muscles and reduces your chance of future injuries.

Is radiofrequency ablation safe?

Not only has radiofrequency ablation been found to provide relief from certain types of back pain, the treatment also carries very few risks. Since a needle is injected, there is a small chance of infection and/or bleeding, and you may experience some bruising and swelling at the site. All of these side effects should resolve within a few days.

Most men and women who receive radiofrequency ablation for their back pain can return to their regular diet immediately after the procedure and resume normal activities in just a day or two.

If you’ve been experiencing lingering muscle aches, limited flexibility or mobility, or shooting or stabbing pain in your back for longer than a few weeks, the experts at Metro Denver Pain Management can create a customized treatment plan for you. Call or book an appointment online today.

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