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Radiofrequency Ablation

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Pain Management
I just got back from my doctor's appointment.

Since my SCS trial was a big failure 3 months ago, I have been running out of options other than surgery. My 3-level fusion (L4-L5-S1)was done in Feb of 2004 and my L3 has been giving me problems. They are wanting to do a Disco gram to confirm a tear in the L3. I am wanting to do everything possible to avoid any more surgery.

Today the doctor told me that he wants to do a facet injection to determine if a Radiofrequency Ablation procedure will work.

Has anyone had a Radiofrequency Ablation done? He tells me that the process has improved lately and the nerves are not destroyed, just numbed for 6 to 12 months. He says that for the people that this works, he only has to see them once a year to have the procedure redone and they have to take little to no medication after this is done.



  • i went for facet inj. however turns out im not a canidate for the oblation, and they want to do discogram and possible disc replacement. but in your case i would question why they didnt do facet inj, and oblation before they did spinal cord stimulator trial. oblation is a lot less invasive than a permanent spinal stimulator.

    my orthropod told me that oblation wont work for me, and told me exactly what they would tell me at pain clinic, that 80% of the people get relief for 6-8 months, and then he bet me a dollar that i wont work. he has always been right. he also told me esi inj. wont work for my case and he was right about that too.

    good luck with any procedures you have done in the future, i hope you find relief, living in pain is no fun for sure.
  • I get anywhere from 9-12 months relief from this procedure. I would say that it is well worth trying. Good luck.
  • to my knowledge the nerves are fried. They just regenerate in 6-12 months. I agree with Remy in wondering why it was not tried before the SCS implant. Maybe a second opinion is in order?
  • My PM doctor also told me that the new technique does not kill the nerve but just numbs it for 6 to 12 months. Has anyone heard this before?

    As far as why this was not done before my SCS trial, my PM doctor thought that I had already had a facet injection done and that there was no success from it as well as the other injections. He did not realize that it had not been done until yesterday when we sat down and went through my entire file again and realized that this had not been done before.

    I really hope that this helps. He told me that the next step would be a discogram on the L3. I do not want to go thru another discogram. I had one done on L4, L5 and S1 before my surgery and the pain was unbearable. I realize that one disc will not be as bad as three but just the thought of having one down is haunting me.

    Thank you all for the responses and the PMs.

  • I am not familiar with the new technique. I have been getting this done for about 5 years now and I guess it is the old technique.
  • I had my facet injection last Monday and I received no relief from the pain. In fact, my back has been bothering more the last week than before the injection.

    I had my follow-up with my PM's physician's assistant and he is telling me that my PM wants to try the Radio Frequency Ablation anyways. Why would he want to try the RFA if the facet injection didn't help? I am willing to try anything to try and reduce the pain and the number of meds that I am on but my back seems to hurt more when they keep poking me.

    Is the procedure and recovery from the RFA any different than a normal injection? How long does it take to feel any type of relief? Are you still on medication if this helps?

    Thanks for the help,

  • Jason

    I had RF in February and did well after 4 weeks, until this past week when I stupidly picked up three pots of mint plants and put them in the garden. I have learned my lesson.

    My Md for Pm said RF should last 8 months to a year.
    He also told me it will not get rid of all the pain ,but will bring it down to level 1-2.

    Also, I have heard of cases where new nerves regenerate and replace the old ones and some people have no pain- at least not like before.

    Maybe I am praying for a miracle, but I hope that happens with me.
    I see him Thursday to see if I have just a pull or if I did damage,

    I am also in PT which has helped a lot.

    I found it less painful than the nerve blocks which I have had for over 20 years, and both PM's I saw said it is too much steroid as I age (62). Both recommended RF.

    I have also read some MD's do the transmitter first; others do RF first,

    Sometimes facet shots take a while to work also.

    Procedure- Lie on your stomach; I put a pillow underneath. My PM grounds you with a patch on each calf. I felt no pain except for shot to numb the area. Depending on how many nerves he does, 1/2 hour to an hour. I drove there and back.

    There should be an article on this site that explains it better than I just did.

    I was worried a lot and a lot of people put messages on my site here and geve me advice.
    Good luck
    ps you asked if it numbs or kills nerves- it numbs- because techincally they grow back- a matter of semantics.

    PLIF 10/07
    Pain resumed 4/08
    Nerve blocks summer 08
    RF 2/09
    Original injury 1980
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