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HELP: Nerve ablation: who has had it? Results

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Pain Management

I am finishing up first phase of PM post PLIF last Oct 07 that "settled" and is causing groin and other back issues.

I never expected this and do not know if settling is even what happened. X Rayed after this event,

Neuro said pain will go as spine settles in - so far not completely gone, but some relief from PM nerve block shots.

The next step will be nerve ablation if this does not hold.

Who has had it? How does it work? Painful? Does it last?
Any ideas on getting a second opinion from another ortho surgeon or Neuro?

Any blogs or Md opinions on this site on this post surgery pain?
Thank you

Betty Sharpie 60

PLIF Rods and screws with doanted bone graft; bone stimulator and Pt for 6 months
OCT 07;
6 glorious pain free months;
sudden pull to right low back Apr 23rd. (Putting a small printer in car).
Sent to Pain Management June- started June 21st with Lumar. SI, {piraformis, Right Hip and next facet shots Aug 23rd.

Possibility of Nerve ablation if this does not work.



  • I am trying to get some answers too. I have had too many shots that do not hold. I am going Fri for 3 nerve burns L3,4,5 and am scared Dr. is having the sleep Dr. their so I will be out while this is getting done they tell me it is a 30 min surgery. I just do not know how I will fell after. I have read a post once months ago that this guy had one and he was in tons of pain and do not know how he is doing know, My Dr. office says that I might have more pain for a week or two and than it should be ok. Easy for her to say. I would like to chat with someone who has gone threw this as you do too. Hope we get some answers and I sure hope your feeling ok. I have been using the lidoderm patches and they keep the edge off. The pain pills make me sick even the low dose but, have them just to be safe. Let me know either by PM if you get any answers.
  • Hi,i had nerve burns in the discs you said your having yours done,please pm me at anytime if you have questions,i am doing great now i have had no nerve pain in my lower back.It was painfull while the nerve was dying,bur after about a month i started to feel better,it was worth it to me to have it done,make sure you have extra pain meds.....
  • Thanks for two repsonses

    This so scares me. I think mine would be L2 3 4. I have groin pain radiating from the low back to the front.

    I do not think it is the surgery site but will know more at my re evaluation.

    I have little or no pain from 12 noon on butthe am I always have pain as soon as I step out of bed. I am grateful I am sleeping.

    I am on Naprosyn which is really not good for me. I have Vicodin if I need it. They tried ultram and lyrica nad I had reactions. The ultram did cut the pain.I wish I could take it.

    THE MD said I would feel no pain - that they use radio waves.

    But from what I read on this site there can be pain and it last a while.

    I hope we get some more ansers from others who have had it.

    Thanks Betty
  • Thanks for two reponses.

    This so scares me. I think mine would be L2 3 4. I have groin pain radiating from the low back to the front.

    I do not think it is the surgery site (L5S1) but will know more at my re evaluation.

    I have little or no pain from 12 noon on but in the am I always have pain as soon as I step out of bed. I am grateful I am sleeping.

    I am on Naprosyn which is really not good for me. I have Vicodin if I need it. They tried ultram and lyrica nad I had reactions. The ultram did cut the pain.I wish I could take it.

    THE MD said I would feel no pain during radio ablation - that they use radio waves.

    But from what I read on this site there can be pain and it lasts a while.

    I hope we get some more answers from others who have had it.

    Thanks Betty
  • the groin/butt/leg pain also and the rhizotomy is awesome! just do not expect immediate relief. the nerves do not die right away and will be angry at you for a while. It did resolve the groin pain also. I have always been awake during mine and my doc says that is the only way to ensure that the correct nerves are being burned. the patient needs to communicate when the doc hits the nerve that causes the original pain. do not be afraid. it will be well worth it in the end and I am sure that you will have meds to help you get by. Please keep us posted on your progress.
  • I have had this done so many times. But some of the times I would have it done on Thursday and be back to work on Monday. Still in pain but not so severe that I could not work. That was when I had one or two levels done. The last time I had six levels done and was in pain for quite awhile.
  • Thanks so much for help here.

    i have had nerve damage since age 32 I am 61 now So itis a long time and a lot of damage L5 S1 originally.

    This groin pain drives me nuts. By late afternoonitis almost gone Then next day start all over again

    I have had the PLIF surgery which I thought resolved it 6 glorious months!!

    And then BINGO! all over again.

    I have had 6 different typpes of blocks. in 3 weeks we do the facets and 2 weeks later we decide on nerve ablation.

    Thanks agian

    I feel better about this

  • Betty,

    I've had numerous RF Ablations done. All of them were in my neck and base of my skull. I agree with PITB, it's best to see if they can be scheduled for a Thursday or Friday so you have the weekend to recoup a bit. I have had some work like magic and some take a few weeks to produce the desired results.

  • Hi all,
    I just had my first RFA done on the 9th of October. Not so bad as far as the procedure went and I was awake, just given a little drowsy medicine. He burned or ablated 4 nerves. Exactly 2 weeks later, last Thrus, I was about 80% pain free!! And today, three weeks out even more pain reflief!! This has been a good thing for me as I suffer from bad facet arthritis in the L4-5 area. But it is so true, give the RFA some time to work...my Dr. said up to 4-6 weeks. A GREAT thing for me!!
  • It actually made the pain at injection site worse, i'm hopeful about my plif surgery june 16th.
  • I had three rhizotomies over a couple of years; all of them covered L1 to my SI joints, bilaterally, and one also included segments of my C and T spines, bilaterally. As "C" says, everyone is different. I had really good results almost immediately with my lumbar and cervical spines, but my t-spine was REALLY aggravated.

    The radiofrequency just "stuns" the nerve, it doesn't actually kill it because they regenerate.

    I was lucky and had all three of mine under general anaesthetic. As someone said earlier, the nerves are VERY angry for a while after the procedure, but mine definitely settled down.

    Good luck!

  • Sharpie I can cocur with everything that has been said here, I had 3 done in my neck a year ago and still feeling good there. I also had 4 levels done on the left spine and an S-I . the ones on the spine arent that bad for the most part but I had to get the left SI done a second time. It still bothers me from time to time. Now I need to do the right S-I and NJBC/BS will not approve it as now they claim its experimental. I agree with the other, go get it done , I think it beats the alternative
  • Have you tryed Lidoderm pain patches. they are wonderful.. I have low back pain and buttock pain from disks, Si joints, etc and these help alot.
  • So, just wondering since i know nothing about this...could they burn the sciatic nerve since its so huge? and eliminate sciatic?? I think i know the answer would be 'no'...but just asking just in case. My doc has mentioned this as an option...but he's not real optimistic about it.
  • I had a RFA on 12/07/10...still in agony..is it possible that I am too impatient because procedure was only 2 1/2 weeks ago. Doc won't prescribe pain pills ...told me to see a neurosurgeon and WHO to see. I had already been to 5 neurosurgens who were all very anxious to do a fusion with full instrumentation....which I refused because of low success rate and long recoup time. I asked the last one I saw if I was a good candidate for a necrotomy and he said yes. Then I found the pain doc and he gave me 3 epidurals over a 6 month period..they were great...no pain...can't have another until 2/11. He did the RFA. at my request. I live in Ft. Lauderdale, FL area. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should do now. Can barely walk...radicular pain down leg is back...I would like a recommendation from someone who has a great doc; a neurosurgeon or pain doc.Quite frankly, I would even go to a plumber to help me with this if someone had had success.
  • You can private message me for my doc. I am in New Orleans and went to Ochsner to one of the best Neurosurgeons in the south. Everyone has glowing things to say about him and my back looks great as it was all minimally invasive. Recovery was initially smooth and I was told i was doing excellent--even though being the hyper person I am, I wanted to snap my fingers and be better pronto!

    I am now suffering badly with what seems to be a result of surgery-but not the original problem. We "think" my sacroiliac joints were damaged because of the long surgery and sleeping is really difficult because I can't turn or move. As a domino effect my neck and shoulder are causing problems and headaches too. My pain doc has recommended a radio nerve abalation ?(not sure what it's called)

    All my initial back probs were remedied for the most part by the neurosurgeon.
  • I am considering an ablation at November's end but have heard the nerves regenerate and then your in mega pain after. Has anyone had long term results? I certianly dont need to have this done only to be back 6 months later in more pain than before. Thanks all you spiney's!
  • Vicki, the nerves DO regenerate when ablation is done; it basically burns the sensory nerve.

    I just had rhizotomy #5 a month ago; this was the first time I had it while I was awake, and it was very painful, but the doc wanted to make sure he was hitting the right nerves. Something that was interesting is that my left lower lumbar/sacral area has always been the worst for me, but that side has had some very long term relief from my last rhizotomy, which was at least 18 months ago. The right side, however, was a different story due to the amount of arthritis around the facet joints and difficulty getting the needle in.

    I had amazing results from the first four rhizotomies; anywhere from six weeks to almost five months that were much more bearable, plus the long term results that I mentioned above. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this last one did not provide me with that same relief. My new pain doctor does not use the 'pulse' method, which was a better option for me, but each doc has his own way of doing things.

    I have always been open to any type of treatment possible because I never know what will work for ME. I am always about quality of life, which has carried me through so many different treatments I have lost count!

    Whatever you decide, I hope you get some kind of relief.

  • GregHamiltonGregHamilton Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaPosts: 2
    edited 04/14/2013 - 2:09 AM
    Hello Everyone
    Its April 14 2013 and on Tuesday April 16 2013, I am going into have this process done in my lower back in 3 areas from L5 to the S1. I have been in some very bad pain now for the last 2 1/2 years, and have had Epidural Cortisone Injections every 3 months since then. The injections only last for about a month, with a decreased pain lvl of very little. I have seen alot of surgeons and pain specialists, and its at the point now that if Ablation dosent work, then possible surgery or a Spinal Simulator
    I am nervous about having this done, but I figure if I have to bear a little more pain right now to get rid of Majority of the pain in a few weeks then to me it will be worth it.
    I am 54 yrs old and live in Ottawa Canada. I will update you all in a few days after the procedure is done.
  • lisaco123llisaco123 Posts: 10
    edited 06/23/2013 - 3:12 AM
    36 hours ago. I have a fractured facet between T1-2. Still having muscle pain at injections sites. 4 injection sites since fractures are bilateral. When will the injection pain go away. I am icing injection sites. How and when will I know if ablations worked. Need to avoid another fusion since bones are brittle from osteoporosis and surgery with instrumentation could create another fracture. Just started Fosamax. When and how do you know if C8 and T1 ablations have helped the pain. I pray every day that they work. And I mean pray a lot.
  • It's Monday. Ablations were Friday afternoon. Injection site pain improved. Neck/Thoracic pain not improved. Am I being impatient? How long do I give it before I throw in the towel and tell my surgeon to just do the surgery?
  • for the pain relief to come after having the nerve ablations done. It is not unusual to have some ongoing pain for several days to a week or more , then it calms down and you experience the relief that comes from the actual procedure.
  • Would like more pain relief. Ablations reduced pain from a 10 to a 4.5. Since the ablations were done 9 days ago, can I expect more pain relief or is this it?
  • Can I expect more improvement in my pain or is this it? What have others found to be the case? Obviously I want less pain but fear the decrease I am experiencing now is all I will get.
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