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RF Ablation/Neurotomy- What to expect?

RobinRRRobinR Posts: 67
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in Chronic Pain
I hope it's ok to post this topic here. I went to the spinal injections board and it looked like not many people posted there and I wanted to get some answers.

I'm scheduled to get the RF ablation on 4/13 for one side and then 4/27 for the other side. I'm getting three levels done on each side. I've already done the diagnostic medial branch blocks on each side, so my doc is confident that the RFA will help me.

I've done some reading on the procedure and what to expect afterward, but I'd really like to hear from people who've had it done. From what I've read, it seems that my pain will be a lot worse for several days to a week while the nerves are dying. Then I should start noticing pain relief within about 2 weeks after the nerves are dead.

So what are your experiences with this procedure?
How bad does the pain get afterward?
How soon did you start feeling better?
How long did the pain relief last?
Did you notice anything "bad" that happened associated with the procedure?
Would you do it again?

Thanks in advance! :H

If you have any questions about my situation, there's a thread on here that talks about all I've gone through recently that can be found here--> http://www.spine-health.com/forum/chronic-pain/md-decided-i-no-longer-need-pain-meds
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134

Comments

  • Procedure is not bad realy, Sore for maybe a day or 2 but sore is much beter then hurt hurt, If they get the rightt nerve it should help prety much right away,

    It only lasted maybe 2 weeks for me because the nerve damage pain kept coming back fast,

    But when i had it done before surgery it worked much beter actualy,

    In my opinion its less painfull then some of the injections i have had done,
    Some people are able to get it done just maybe once a year i was told, I just aint one of them,

    Good luck. Nothing to worry about,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • I'm actually getting the sedation for these procedures. I've never gotten sedation for the injections and I usually curse and yell all the way through them. But for the burning of the nerves....umm...well...I just don't think I want to be awake for that.

    If I was, I imagine I'd scare everyone within a 5 mile radius with my screams! :))(

    My pain is pretty bad today after getting the 6 medial branch blocks yesterday. So you think the day after the RFA will be about the same?
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  • Did the injection help enough to where you know he has the right nerve?

    If i remember correct the injection is to test to see he has the right level he will be doing the ablation on,

    So the injecrion beter help to make sure he doing the right 1 is the most important part,

    I say every time to the dr and the girls in the room close the door and turn the radio up cause i am going to scream like a litle girl while doing injecrion without any sedation,

    I think only one time it did hurt so bad i screamed and swore up and down before he was finaly done,

    I had a few rfa and it was diferent each time, When it helped it helped right away, but that might be because the medications he injects before geting started i think,

    When it wears off the pain will return for a litle while but should not be worse then when you went in usualy, It was just sore mostly and then things with the nerve stayed calm for about the 2 weeks for me,

    But 2 weeks releif is not enough is why i stoped having it done,

    Good luck, Hopefuly you be the lucky 1 where it gives releif for a year,or more,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Is your RF going to be in your neck or back?

    I had C2-3-4 done back in June, and am having a repeat on 2-27.

    With my previous one, the doctor used a light sedation so that I would be calm for the procedure, but it did not put me out and I was aware of everything going on. In fact, he wanted me to be able to feel and communicate with him.

    For each level, the numbing part was more painful than the actual burning. So the procedure was tolerable. I had an increase in some burning pain for a few days, but overall it wasn't too bad. Although I did have a spot that hurt for months when I touched it.

    The overall benefit from doing it was tremendous for me. It took my pain in that area from a 6-7 down to a 2. That is why I am repeating it on Monday. I do wish it had lasted longer. Hopefully this round will give me a year. Now if only there was something to take care of the rest of my pain!




    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Hi Robin. Just some information from my son's experience: He has had several multi-level ablations done. He had significant increased pain after each for about a week. We panicked after the first one because we didn't know what to expect and were totally unprepared for the increased pain. Ended up in the emergency room several times in the middle of the night until his PM figured out the pain was due to muscle spasms which he said was quite common in younger patients because of the relative health and density of their muscles. Anyway, it took about a week for the pain to start subsiding gradually each time and it was totally gone in about 2 weeks. The good effects of the ablations lasts about 8 months for him. He says that they are totally worth it even with the increased pain and would repeat (and has several times). Also, as for being awake (since the doctor has to be able to communicate with you during the procedure - sounds awful, I know) - he doesn't remember that at all. It seems like the reaction to these ablations and the success rates vary considerably from individual to individual, so I have no idea if your experience will be similar to my son's at all. It could be totally different. But I wish you the best of luck. I hope you get some great relief!
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  • Robin,

    I have had RF done for the past 6 years. It has been awesome for my Lumbar disc bulges and post-motor vehicle accidents (2) in the past 5 years. Prior to that it was the best procedure to get me pain free for 2-3 years up to mva.

    Injections were tolerated well - - for me I had sooo many years of chronic pain and when the temporary bi-lateral injections right & left and to discover what levels the source of pain was coming from; getting up and being free of pain completely was so awesome I cried and hugged the Pain Anesthetist Specialist Doc !! So injection pain I never cringed. Only took numbing agent and tolerated well.

    How bad does the pain get afterward?


    Different each time but on average a week and soreness leading up to that 4-5 days as anethetic numbing wore off.

    My first RF last 3 yrs total pain relief ! Prior I was walking like a 90 yr old prior to getting it done at times, stuck hunched over with pelvic tilt & hip out with it all stopped ! Only major mva's required repeat first time 3 yrs, then 1-1/2 yr apart twice - - L-2/3, L-4/5 discs bulges worse, then S-1/2 last injection


    Procedures 2 - 4 all the same went well as above.

    Yes, do whenever necessary 2-3 yrs usually....Absolutely, saving me from surgery & functioning well, bending over, some pain minor been 2 yrs now.

    Only have RF when pain returns to chronic 2-3 wks level, which has for me been because of mva's each time past 4 yrs

    Recommend not being sedated and being awake and just topical numbing agent - - actually only way my 2 spine anethetists drs. will do them - - & learn why (you need to be able to report during spine injection severe pain in order for him to know if he should abort injection = injury or trauma injections - - can happen = + go to someone who has been doing them for many years + a dept. in university versus a single small practice center solo dr owns = who may not have experience or being accountable. Many are in field not doing surgical setting with full staff = there is a small % with complications and you want to be with those who know what to do.

    Recommend you have them done by someone is also accredited with American Association of Pain Anesthetists and 2 other organizations, like surgeons accreditation, you get the safest and best injections by a highly experienced and highly trained.

    I had mine done at Washington Univ. St. Louis 5-star medical university and when I moved went to Emory Spine Center Emory Univ., Atlanta, GA.

  • Thanks for all ya'lls input! The kind of sedation I'm getting is the kind where I'll be semi-awake so I should be able to communicate with the doctors as they do the procedure. I understand the importance of this although I'd sorta like to be ASLEEP! :S Just the other day when they were doing the medial branch blocks, the doc stuck one of the needles in the wrong place and it shot severe pain down into my groin which I don't normally have, so yeah there's always the possibility of getting the needles into the wrong spot.

    I'm hoping that I'll have good results with the RFA. The first ESI I ever got several years ago held me for a little more than a year which was great. And when I had SI joint injections about 6 mths ago, those have worked well for me too. So I have noticed that when the injections are done properly and done in the correct spot, I do tend to get good relief. The medial branch blocks I've now gotten twice weren't meant to give me lasting pain relief, according to the doc...they were meant simply meant to be diagnostic to isolate the correct nerves. I did get good pain relief for a few hours afterward, so I am hopeful that the RFA will work for me.

    I'm also glad to hear that the pain afterward shouldn't be terrible....or at least more terrible than I'm already used to. I think I've gotten pretty good at dealing with really bad pain.
  • Hi Robin - I have nothing to add to this as I know nothing about it lol

    However I want to stay in touch with you and see how your doing so I am "signing up" to follow you - kind of like twitter or FB ;)
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • PS: Robin I think this member had the same thing done you are having done. They have a lot of GOOD news to say about it.
    I found their link at: http://www.spine-health.com/forum/chronic-pain/some-good-news


    OOPS My Bad! I did not read down the next post after theirs & now I did & see you already hooked up. Oh well you know what they say about good intentions lol ;)
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Robin,
    I had mine done yesterday, and just wanted to touch bases again. This first 24 hours has been difficult, but tonight things seem to be easing off. The procedure itself was painful, but nothing I couldn't breathe through. The doctor gave me fentanyl for sedation, and a 2nd dose really helped to keep me calm while he was working. He was working on me for about 45 minutes (3 levels) which is longer than I had remembered from the previous time. It is a good thing that time takes away our memories, because I didn't remember it being as painful as it was. Just ask for more sedation medicine if you can feel it too much. They want you to feel some, so that you can answer questions. You just need to be able to stay still, so don't be afraid to tell the doctor if he hasn't given you enough medicine. I got a big lecture about that and from now on I will speak up if it hurts too bad.

    My neck is quite sore, and my pain level is about the same as pre-RFA. But it is a different kind of pain that should subside soon.

    I wish you well with yours.

    Cindy
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
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