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RF procedure scheduled...Anyone had this done?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Chronic Pain
It's official on August 21st I go in for an Radiofrequency Neurotomy. This is where they go into the nerves and actually freeze or cut them into. This is hopefully going to help my chronic pain. Has anyone out there ever had this done? If so did it work?

I am nervous about yet another procedure, but I have no choice. I am flat on my back once again. I have got to get my life back. I tell ya...I am beginning to wonder if there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just tired of being in PAIN!!!!



  • Hi,. i had it done in January,on both sides of my lower back,the nerve pain will be bad for about 4 weeks after that you will be ok,i have no nerve pain now,be sure to ask you doctor for extra pain meds...
  • I appresiate your quick response. I was told it isn't that painful...but I should expect some discomfort a few days later. I am so tired of being in pain I just want this done and over with now.

    I really appreciate your honesty on how it really is. Docs can tell you all day long "NO BIG DEAL" but they aren't the ones going through it. I am having mine on L-2 down to S-1. I am confused because I am fused L-4,L-5 - s-1. I am anxious to see if this will actually releive my chronic pain.

    Thanks again Bigcat I will ask my doc for pain meds to help me through it all. I will post back post op and let ya know how I am doing. Hopefully I will survive.LOL Just scared to death.
  • I had the radio frequency 5 weeks ago this week. It was just on the left side, my PM will not do both sides at once.
    The procedure itself is not painful. They put me totally out and I don't remember anything.
    As of now it has not really helped me. At first I thought it did, had some wonderful days then the pain set in. I would rather you know what to expect. They told me it would hbe sore and my pain would increase until the nerves healed. I am still in pain, but can't decide now where it is actually coming from. My advice is take your pain meds, and use lots of ice packs. If it works it may take up to 2 months to really tell. My dr. said today that he had not given up on it working yet. It is wonderful they say if it works. Just keep up until you find what works for you. I have the same problem. It your pain is worse, don't panic, it is expected. Everyone is different. Good luck and God Bless
  • I have had the rhizotomy which is where they go in and burn the nerve done about 6 times now. They are awesome. It sounds like what you are speaking of is a little different. I have never had the nerves frozen or cut. With the burn they grow back in about 1 year but for that 1 year I have experienced great pain relief. Please tell me more about the procedure that you are having. After cutting the nerve in half will it ever regenerate? I am thinking that the other two replies may have been the nerve burn what like I had done. I sure am interested to know all about what will be done during your procedure.
    PS If they are actually cutting your nerves you may not have any where near the recovery that bigcat was speaking of. The nerve will probably die much quicker.
  • I am really wondering if you should have been awake during the procedure. My doc has always kept me awake so that I could tell him when he hit the right nerve that recreated the same pain that I had been experiencing. That is how he knows that he is burning the correct nerve. He has told me that some docs put the patients under but that it is not near as successful when they do.
  • What nerves are you having this done to?

    The reading I have done is in connection with the medial branch nerves at the facet joints. Is this what everyone has had/is having done?

    And did you have a nerve block first to see whether or not the rhizotomy would work?

    The reason I am asking is becuase I am scheduled to have a nerve block on the facet joint nerves (medial branch) done on Tuesday. If it gives me pain relief then I will have the RF rhizotomy scheduled.

    Good luck to you Cathy - from another Cathy :H
    I hope it works very well for you.
  • To clear up some questions you guys had about RF.

    My doc is putting me under after he pinpoints the site he is going to do. He is actually cartarizing the nerves from L-2 to S-1. Not sure if only on one side or not. That I have to ask the doc on.

    There is alot of info on this site about RF. It does say this can last months or even years for pain releif. It also says the nerves do grow back leaving the option of obviosly having it done again in the future. Crazy I know...it is just scary.

    I hate not knowing the actual outcome on having this done. He did say it is not 100% guarantee it will work. He is just doing the process of elimination right now.

    The pain has increased so much I am unable to actually function. No longer working at the moment. Just trying anything to get me back on my feet.

    Please keep me in your prayers...I need them. As always thanks for the replies and God Bless you all.
  • Why do people not lose nerve function if the nerves are cut? :/
  • All I know about - are the facet joint nerves, or medial branch nerves. These nerves go to very small muscles in the back, and destroying them does not cause any lack of back control or feeling (from what I understand).

    I was under the impression that RF (radio frequency ablation) was specific for these medial branch nerves, but I may be wrong about that, and it also may be used on other nerves. In that case, I'm not sure about the control or feeling in whatever structure those nerves go to.
  • Hopey,
    The nerves that move muscles are not the same nerves that feel pain; altho' sometimes they are close together and are injured in the same incident (surgery or injury). :)

    My husband had bilateral facet rhizotomy L3-L5 nearly a year ago and it's still holding (in that area, anyway). Facet nerves are very small, and for that reason, there's much less chance of them "reconnecting". Facet rhizotomies are very successful, as a rule. I hope your facet block is successful diagnostically, so the rhizotomy will help you! :)

    I wish you the best on your procedure! If it's "RF", that means RadioFrequency....the nerves will be burned by radio waves. Since I'm not sure which nerves...well, all my best.
    I'm sad that you still have so much pain after fusion. :( Fusion fixes the structure of the skeleton, and does little to alleviate pain. Because you continue to have pain, the docs are trying to disconnect the nerves that relay the pain signals with a rhizotomy.
    Prayers for success! O:)

  • I would also add that the nerve endings are burned,and they do grow back,it takes about 1 year for the nerve endings to grow back,the nerves are not cut.....
  • Rapunzel, thanks so much for relaying your husband's experience, and for the information. And especially, thanks for the good wishes.

    Tomorrow can't get here soon enough. My pain is really acting up today, whereas usually Monday's are pretty good (after a weekend of rest). I think it is because I had to stop taking the Relafen, before the nerve block. I just have to make it through today.
  • I want to thank all of you for your responses on this RF stuff. I am scared out of my mind...but GOD is in control. I just want to be able to work and be there for my kids.
    I want to be out of pain. I just feel so tired. Tired of all the crap that gets thrown my way. I am sure you guys understand my frustration.

    You guys sure make my days a little easier. I appreciate all your support and prayers. Just wanted to say "THANK YOU"!!!!!
  • I am so thankful to find this information, I am scheduled for RF on the 21st. I am not worried about the nerves...kill them all and burn them to hell!!!! OK, really I am worried about the long term effects when they grow back, I am just so tired of painting the impossible smile on my face and taking so much medicine. I am sure this is going to help. I know it will.
  • My PM doctor only spends about 4 minutes with me and refuses to believe that my pain is as bad as I say it is. He has actually told me that there are many people in much worse pain than I have who take nothing for it. I know for a fact that can't be true because I can't even move when my med's wear off! I cry constantly and think about killing myself all of the time. Will this work for me. I have had 2 failed spine surgery's for a herniated disk, L5 S1, and then had to have reconstructive surgery to fix the mess that the first surgeon made of my spine. Now I have scar tissue completely clamping off a large nerve root that comes directly from the spinal cord. Of course the MRI ws taken about 6 years ago and I have no idea how bad is had gotten since then. Please keep us updated on this. I need all of the info that i can get because my PM won't allow me to seek treatment from anyone else and he doesn't do anything for me. He has never even given me an examination! He has never even asked me a question!
  • Cathy,
    So how did your RF procedure go? I'm starting the medial block branch protocols next week to make sure I'm a candidate for the RF Neurotomy.
  • the only person i've heard of that had this done was larry flint, the publisher of hustler magazine. he got it after he got shot. does anyone remember, it happened in the 1970's. he was on narcotics then had this done and he swore that it got rid of his pain. the shooting really messed up his nerves and he suffered from severe pain. he has been able to function ever since. i don't know if this is the same proceedure that you will have. my pain dr once shot me up with some medicine directly in my nerve to kill it. it hurt like heckydarn and did not help my pain. still have pain after 4 back surgeries so i've learned to live with it
    jon O:) :O) B) :B
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Well I had RF done on 21st...can't tell a thing. Still in soooo much pain and can't functon. I just expected immediate pain releif. Didn't happen like that.

    The doc said give it more time. Some people say it takes weeks before they can tell a difference. I need releif NOW!!!!!! I am miserable. Any suggestions on what to do??????
  • it is going to take a month for the nerves to die....
  • Thanks Bigcat!! I just really expected to have instant releif. Guess I had high expectations.
  • I'm sorry your still in lots of pain. I am scheduled for my RF Ablation tomorrow (8/27) and am also scared to death. I have been told that I could be in more pain than before the procedure for a while. Don't expect too much relief for about a month. I'll be off work for a few days and will let you all know how it turns out.
  • I hope all goes well with you tomorrow. I will keep you in my prayers. I hope it is a complete success.
  • candidate for rf, please keep us posted and let us know if its eventually helps ya!.sorry your in sooo much pain girl! trust me i know!!! i rolled around in the lobby at the walk in several times!, only to get a non narcotic shot of sumptin and a 210.00 dolla visit bill... ~X( hurtin the same leavin the frickin hospital as when i showed up.

    sad but true when your covered in tattoos "like me" they think your there to catch a buzz. hey at least your pretty! ;)) stay strong!
  • Keep us posted on your progress. Was this a last resort in dealing with the pain?

    I'm supposed to start physical therapy soon and I don't think it is going to help. To me my pain feels more like it is nerve related. Pain down my right shoulder and through my legs. My legs feel tingly and numbish and my hand has lost some of its fine motor skills.

    Anyway's keep us posted
  • How offensive! Just because someone has tat's they are drug addicts? How stupid can this get? Tat's are so commen anymore, almost everyone has at least one. As a matter of fact I'm thinking about getting one. I've wanted one for years! I do have a question though. Exactly how much does it really hurt to have one done? I am only planning on getting a small one, either on my ankle or on my hip. Which place would hurt less? Any advice and info would be appreciated!
  • Most of my intolerable pain is due to nerve pain. I had never heard of RF before I read this particular post and it has given me some hope. I would really like to know the outcome of everyone's RF treatment and how it's helping them in the long run. If there is even a chance of it helping me I would be more than willing to have it done. Actually, I would look forward to it extreme pain and all! Please keep us updated and I'm wishing you all of the best. Cambran, I hope the pain begins to recede very, very soon. And Darby, good luck with yor procedure. I hope it works for you both!
  • tattoos hurts a hell of alot less than back pain! so you got the tattoo thing licked lol,feels like bee stings for about 5 minutes depending on the area of the tattoo~~~> elboes, stomache,back of neck and feet and hands being the worst,but after about 5 minutes you start to relax a lil and after the outline the shading isnt bad at all kinda feels good in a pain way like working out and getting that burn from a good mucle pump. ankle and hip are both very sensitive spots :P but hey think of it this way it will take your mind off your back pain 8> ;))
  • are a harsh reality,what you drive what you wear,you are judged for,if you see a black man in a really nice car with big shiny rims and he has a brimmed hat on one might think "pimp" or dope man,sad but true hell im from the ghetto and even i think that lol,so i guess i fit in the white trailer trash classification even though im now a home owner in a middleclass neiborhood. thats the just way it is. but i never planned on being hurt and when the dr's are having a hard time getting a diognostic on you the tattoos from the nose to the toes definatley plays a part on getting proper pain management..

    bald head full of tattoos dr's tend to look at you not the the mri's so much.
    my experience 1st hand
  • Cambran

    It has been a while now since your RF Ablation. How are you feeling? Better I hope.

    I had my RF Ablation 1 week ago today. I'm still in lots of pain but I knew beforehand that was a possibility. I guess I was just hoping to be one of the lucky ones that it helped instantly. My doc said it could take 4-6 weeks for the nerves to completely die. I just hope when they die most of my pain dies with them. He gave me Phenergan for nausea and Hydrocodone for pain. The pain meds help with the back pain but not much with the sciatica. I don't know what is going to help with the sciatica but he has to fine something. I go back in 4 weeks from my procedure and if I still have the bad sciatica I'll discuss options with him at that time.
  • Sorry I havent responded till now...I have been in PAIN...BAD!!! I have lost control of my left leg....numbness...tingling...shock waves...and yes the famous foot drop.

    I am not sure if it is my nerves still dying off or not. Called doc yesterday and I am suppose to make an appointment to get in. I have been out if power for 2 days and possibly wont get restored till Friday.

    We are getting hit with hurricanes left overs!!!!! It has been raininig nonstop for 3 days!!!!!!! I live in Arkansas and man....we are getting alot of bad weather from this thing. 30- 40 miles an hour winds. Not fun.

    Anyway back to my RF recovery...I think I may have something else going on. I have my arms and legs going to sleep on me and man...I have no releif on my back. I know it takes time but I am tired of waiting. I honestly feel if it was gonna work it would have by now.

    I'll check back in a few days. I just ran over to my brother-in-laws to get out of my house for a few hours. He has power and I don't...my luck sucks!!!! lol Anyway---if you don't hear from me in a few days you know I am still out of power. I will check back as soon as I can. Thanks for all your replies!!!! I appreciate you all!!

    GOD BLESS!!!!
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