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Pain Spike from Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA)

Prior to the procedure I would have on and off pain up to a level of 4 to 5 (MRI indicated moderate to severer arthritis in lumbar region). I've been living with it for 18-24 months. I had the temporary nerve block to see if RFA might work for me and for a full day I had 100% relief. That gave me a lot of confidence. But after the RFA (4 levels on left side) I am having pain spikes. I use an ice pack when I feel it coming on and that seems to help. During these spikes the pain hits severe levels (pain level of 8 to 9) although they only last for about 20-30 mins. This happens 2-3 times per day. What bothers me the most is this is the 5th day after the procedure and I'm still having it (it was very bad today). Everything else I read said you might have some added pain for 24-48 hours. Has anyone else had pain spikes 5 days or more after an RFA?


  • Yes, pain commonly flares for several days and continues for a week or more post RFA. You can use the search box or just look at other threads in this forum regarding flare ups of pain post procedure.

  • Just wondering how you're doing now. I had my right side l3-s1 facet joints done a few days ago and I've been stuck in bed ever since with terrible muscle spasms and leg pain. It's all I can do to shower and use the bathroom. Every day is a tiny bit better but I truly am miserable. I had RFA on my si joint this past fall and it wasn't this bad. It seems like at least some of my normal pain is gone though, so that's good. Any idea how long I'll continue to feel like I got hit with a car?
  • I'm two weeks out from my RFA and I still feel worse than before the procedure. Does anyone know if this is normal? I've been taking more pain meds than ever before and the smallest activity makes me feel like I got hit by a car.

    I'm starting to feel like I'm spending way too much time laying in bed but I don't know what else to do with myself.

    Anyone have any input? In see the dr tomorrow, but I'm just looking for some support from peers at this point. I'm so depressed by yet another seemingly failed procedure.
  • Layin in bed is not a good idea. After RFA, the pain can flare up for a few days to a few weeks until the nerve fibers start to die off. This should improve in a few more days. Make sure if you are in need of more pain medications that you clear that with your pm doctor before doing so, otherwise you may find yourself in trouble for doing so without his permission first.
    Ice, or heat, whichever helps you the most will also help to ease some of the pain.
  • Hello I realize it has been a while since anyone commented but I am hoping to get answer. I had a facet joint rfa on the right side in april of this year and one on the left in may of this year. The procedure was horrible, I wasn't given any medicine to help deal with the pain of procedure. My dr just put me on the table and started the injections. Okay the right side I had no problem with but during the left side, I started having major sharp pain down my left leg. I asked my dr if that was normal and he said no and to let him know if i experience it again. A few seconds later, another sharp pain down my leg as it was jerking and I told him what I was feeling. He said that it was alright, we were in a good place now. About a week after the left side rfa I fell. I called his office, they told me to come in. I did and ended up having a fall in his office. He checked me and said he was afraid he went too deep in my muscle and now that muscle was laying on my nerve causing my leg to go out from under me. He said bed rest for 3 weeks and gave me muscle relaxers and he said it would go away in those 3 weeks. Itll be 3 months the 19th of this month since the procedure and I am still falling. I recently fell down 5 steps on my porch and that laid me up for days. Ive had about 20 falls since the procedure. I called his office twice and left messages with the lady there and he never returned my call. Im beginning to think he knows what he has done and Im praying that this wont continue. I have 9 herniated discs from my neck down to my s1 region, some of which are intruding on my spinal canal and I stay in a whole lot of pain. Some days I have to have help getting turned over. I had been seeing another dr who had me on Lortab 10 twice a day with Cymbalta and after I switched to this dr, he took me off all of my pain medicines and told me I needed to learn how to deal with the pain mentally???? I thought this man was crazy....when you have chronic back pain, its bad enough dealing with the pain must less without anything to take for it. For the last 3 months I have spent most of my time in the bed in severe pain and hurts to move. I have since quit that dr and just went to my family dr for help and he added me back on some of my medicine. And it helps but when I have falls it starts all over again. So my question is , has anyone had these side effects with the rfa and did you experience pain down your leg during the procedure? Thank you so much for listening and Im hoping for a response.
    Cyndi broughton
  • I would suggest that your primary care doc refer you to a different pain management doctor who believes in treating the patient. Based on what happened to you, I think you may also have grounds to take action against the doctor who messed up the RFA. If nothing else, I'd consider a complaint to the state medical board. He admitted he went too deep and began covering his tracks. Reputable doctors don't do that.

    I hope you start feeling better soon.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Well my PM wants me to do this procedure and I think I shall take a pass, I do not want any more pain but I will read further. I will check out the site Sandi posted. No one should have that much pain and falling. It all has to boil down to if the PM had the skill for the facet injections, I think.
  • I had it done a couple different times and they really didn't help me much. The pain I had afterwards only lasted a couple of days and I bruised a little around the injection site. There are others though that have had very good results. I wouldn't let this site be your only compass for making a decision regarding your care. Check around other sites and speak with your physicians.

    Best of luck!
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
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