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Radio frequency ablation

After a visit with my neurosurgeon, he reviewed my MRI imaging and mentioned microdiscectomy on the L5-S1 disc herniation, but since my back pain was more intense than the leg pain he mentioned a 50/50 chance of pain relief from that procedure, and of course the other associated risks. He mentioned that the fact joints may be contributing more to the intense back pain, so I am wondering if anyone has a similar issue as mine and if you had the radio frequency ablation procedure did it help you with pain relief? Was it lasting?



  • Hmm, I guess no one has had Radio Frequency Ablation?

  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 917
    Python - I've had RFAs (Radio Frequency Ablations) on both my lower back and neck.
    The lower back RFAs were about 45 years ago, both sides of L2/L3, L3/L4 and L4/L5.  They were not at the time fully approved yet by the FDA.  The doctor that did my lower back RFAs did it under the limited trials program.  He was one the of first doctors in the U.S. doing the procedure.  My low back RFAs worked great for me!  It reduced the pain levels enough so that I could get rehab to work and get on with life.
    My neck RFAs were a failure.  Once I had neck surgeries, it was easy to understand why my neck RFAs failed.
    So my point is that sometimes RFAs work and sometimes fail.  It is a relatively minimally invasive procedure that is often worth trying. 

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  • wbdolphinwwbdolphin FloridaPosts: 18


    I had an RFA done in the fall of 2016.  L-4 and L-5.  My pain levels went from  an 8-9 to a 1-2 about 3 weeks after the procedure.  The pain has very slowly increased over two years and is about a 5 currently.  I was told by the pain management doctor that RFAs work best with facet problems/arthritis, not much help with disc problems. 

    If my pain levels ever get back up where they were, I will definitely get the RFA done again.


  • The Pain Dr. will do an injection first to see if you get pain relief  after the injection and if that gives relief then he will discuss RFA if it's right for facet nerve pain. My test my leg with sciatica went to sleep after the test I couldn't walk at first.  I get RFA done under live xray with twilight sedation every one or two years for lower back. A lot of great relief for back pain. somewhat for sciatica but it's really for facet joint nerve pain so that's why they do the test first. It gets rid of that burning and sharp pains.

    I found when he did both sides at once it was most effective but sometimes they just like to try one side.Depends on your Dr. Charry

    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I have had RFA on both my cervical spine and lumbar spine. It is hit or miss. Neither procedure eliminated all of the pain but it did reduced it. Actually never enough to measure the pain below a 5 in the pain scale. It is not a horribly invasive procedure so it would be something to consider.

       Good Luck !

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