Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure performed to burn the nerve fibers within arthritic joints in your spine that carry pain signals to your brain. An electrical current is used to “burn” the problematic nerve tissue, reducing pain. The procedure requires only local anesthesia and avoids the scars and complications associated with traditional open surgery.
RFA can be performed in different sites including the neck, midback, and lower back. RFA is usually performed if you have good pain relief after facet joint injections.
Before the Procedure
Depending on your medical condition, you may need clearance from your primary care physician or another specialist, such as a cardiologist. Certain medications may need to be stopped prior to surgery as well.
Preoperative blood work and testing are also required several days before the scheduled procedure. A team member will also give instructions on when to stop eating and drinking prior to the procedure.
During the Procedure
A local anesthetic is administered to the area where the procedure will be performed. A thin needle is then inserted into the area where you feel pain, followed by a small radiofrequency current being sent through the electrode to heat and remove the problematic nerve tissue.
After the Procedure
You may continue your regular diet and medications immediately following the RFA, but driving and any rigorous activities should be avoided for 24 hours after the procedure. You can return to your normal activities the next day.