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MY RFA experience

laga77llaga77 Posts: 33
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Pain Management
Yesterday I had a 3 level, L3-L5, bilateral Radio Frequency Ablation. I have severe DDD at all Lumbar levels, severe Foraminal stenosis at L4-L5 and L5-S1, and moderate Facet arthritis L3 thru S1. In the past I had the Caudal epidermal and Facet joint injections. Both gave some relief for a short amount of time. The procedure itself was not bad at all. I was given sedation but was awake the whole time. The numbing injections hurt more than anything else I experienced. The Doctor inserted 6 needles and then sent a mild pulsating charge through each needle asking where I felt the charge. If it was in the leg he moved it until I felt nothing or pain in the back. The nerves were then numbed so I felt nothing during the burning which lasted 2 minutes and done 1 needle at a time. Afterwards the recovery was easy and sent home a hour later. I felt no pain at all all last night. This mourning there is a VERY slight burning sensation at the site of the injections and no change in my symptoms. I have a follow up in two weeks. I will post updates as they happen.


  • Glad things went well. I had RFA to my sacrum and L5 five days ago. The first several days were super. They injected cortisone at the end of the procedure so I had no pain for 2-3 days. Now I feel some of the old ache-like pain creeping back, however, I do not feel any of the deep excruciating nerve pain I had before the procedure. This is my third (and maybe last) RFA to this area as I have heard that they only do a maximum of 3 per area at my pain center. That said, I tend to get 12-18 months of relief from the really bad pain with each procedure. But I have never entirely gotten off pain meds and this is kind of a downer. Best wishes to you for an enjoyable and pain-free period of time!

    Sincerely, Lisa
  • Glad to hear things went well for you! I had my 1st RFA 3 level on the left side 2 weeks ago and today is the first day my pain level is a consistent 3-4. My Dr. put me on a low dose Lyrica a week later due to increased pain level.
    I had a rough time during the procedure. Were you sedated? I go back in this Friday for the other side and hoping for an easier time.
    Keep us posted how you're doing!
  • Day three after the procedure and absolutely no change form before. No pain from the RFA and same back pain I have always had. It is like I had nothing done to my back.
  • It has been over 10 days since the procedure and I feel no difference what so ever. I think the RFA is a failure.
  • I had a follow up appt with the doctor yesterday. Since I have not felt any difference with the shots in the first two weeks, he said I should not expect any improvement from the procedure. At this point, he recommended the fusion. I have seen both a near surgeon and a oath surgeon and have not made my decision on who to go with and when to do it.
  • Laga,
    I've followed your story b/c i am considering thoracic RFA. See if you have a surgeon in your area who could do minimally invasive surgery before you let anyone put plates or screws into your back.
  • Laga,
    I've followed your story b/c i am considering thoracic RFA. See if you have a surgeon in your area who could do minimally invasive surgery before you let anyone put plates or screws into your back.
  • I have seen three doctors about my back. The first one was a minimally invasive surgeon. I have severe DDD in all lumbar discs which gives multiple problems. I do not believe his do a little now and see what happens approach will work. What ever I do will probably lead to more problems in the future. The doctor who did my RFA told me before that the RFA is almost a 50-50 crap shoot as far as success rates go. Good Luck to you If you decided to do one.
  • I just had RFA to 3 places on the left side of my neck today. I had a LOT of pain during the procedure so the Dr. kept upping the dose of lidocaine till I finally received 20cc. Afterwards I was unable to stand/walk because I was so dizzy. I also had severe shaking of entire upper body that lasted for almost 6 hrs. Now, 11 hrs later, the area around the uppermost injection site (approx. 6 in. round) is totally numb to the touch. Other then a sore neck ( with slight deeper pain) I have no other negative effects. is this common? did any of you?
    As to any warnings of pain... I had steroid injections into my disc space & medial branch block, they both hurt, but nothing like the RFA. My Dr. did not say it would hurt any worse then the MBB I had last month & he said that it should last 3-4 months up to a year.... lest just hope that my medication hell(5 narcs a day, on a pain free day) will be over. Next month I am scheduled for the exact same thing on the other side.
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