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Need your experiences on Medial branch and ? of radio frequency

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Pain Management
Hello All-

have not been on since September. Had great luck with facet block and SI and piraformis and no pain for 4 months.

Saw two Pain Mangement Md's and both recommended Radio Frequency.

I have a Primary Immune Disease which means if I am not treated with gammaglobulin I get bronchitis; sinus; etc infections all the time.

As the new Doc explained to me, the steroids depress the immune system.advises against more blocks.
Also, I am limited as to meds: reactions or sensitivities to ultram, lyrica, and naproxen.

I have a 30 plus year old chronic pain problem.

I do not know if it is my age or not ( now 62), but having a hard time with all of it- constant nagging low back pain; groin pain; some pain down the leg- and now this new type of treatment. Which scares me. MD's both tell me it's nothing to fear.

PLIF Surgery in 2007 did not help.

he Both would not advise any more steroids but both advise RF,

Who has had this treatment?

How is it? they actually said I can drive myself back a nd forth from Md's office for both treatments - he is 7 minutes from my home.

Any suggestions appreciated. How long does relief last and does it always need to be repeated?
You can also PM or email me

Sharpie 60 Oct 15 2007 PLIF' rods and screws; donated bone graft L5 S1 0; glorious pain free 6 months and then pain returned. Not as bad but always there.


  • Hi Betty,
    The RF procedure is really pretty easy. I had 3 levels on my left side done in October. After placing all three probes (basically the size of needles) the doc did the RF on each nerve individually. He would try and stimulate the nerve and I would tell him when I felt it and when it stopped. It wasn't painful, just weird. Then he flooded the nerve with novocaine and burned the nerve. The burning was painless. I couldn't describe the sensations, but each nerve felt different. The procedure for 3 levels took about 45 minutes.

    My doc made me bring a driver so my wife took the day off.

    Not to try and deter you at all, but my pain is greater now than before the RF. Doc says the nerves were burned but the pain is coming from somewhere else.

    The Medial block is to see if you are a candidate for the RF. For me it was two sets of injections a week apart. Each nerve was flooded one week with a short duration (novocaine) pain killer and the other week with a longer duration pain killer. I think mine was Marcaine. I wasn't told which injection was which. My first injections lasted about 4 days. That was awesome. The second injection wore off before my sedative and I had absolutely no relief from it.
  • Thank you Jay

    What do you do for your pain now? I think you are saying the part the Md did the Rf on is pain free but you have other pain now. Do you know where itis coming ffroma nd what will the Md do?

    Has this happened to anyone else?
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  • I feel no improvement from the RF (where the procedure was done), the only change has been a gradual worsening. The doctor says they cannot definitively say whether the nerves were truly burned or not but he is pretty confident they were. But the RF did not relieve any pain. Right now I take Vicodin, Tramadol and Ibuprofen for pain. The Vicodin and Ibuprofen are ineffective, the Tramadol takes the edge off. I can take Tramadol during the day but not Vicodin. The opposite at night: Vicodin helps me sleep a little better and Tramadol keeps me awake. I do use a TENS also almost all day long when I'm at work, it does help a little bit as well. I get poor sleep and just have to deal with the pain during the day. I am going to have another ESI on Friday which did help with the sciatica last time but not the back pain. Nine weeks after the RF, I set up my most recent doc appointment and we decided that we will start doing more diagnostic procedures. Sometimes the pain is pretty bad so I am open to more invasive stuff at this point.
  • results with this procedure. Since you have had such success with your injections I think that the odds are very good that you will too. My doc says that it is imperative that the patient be awake for the procedure in order to indicate when the correct nerve is found. If the patient is asleep the doc is really just guessing. Hmmmm... I don't know if I would want to drive myself though. How many levels are you having done? The nerves usually grow back in about 9-12 months for me and then I have the procedure done all over again.
    BTW- Don't expect results right away as it usually takes about 4-6 weeks for me for the nerve to completely die. Sometimes it actually gets worse before it gets better in my case. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • I had three rhizotomies done, all under general anaesthetic with low dose radiation to pinpoint the sensory nerves that were causing the pain. The pain immediately following the surgery was like nothing I've ever felt, as those nerves were VERY angry, but by the evening, everything settled.

    My improvement was immediate with my lumbar and cervical spine; the first rhizotomy, which was L1 to L5, S1 and SI joints, was done bilaterally, and my pain was reduced to almost nothing for six weeks, then came back. The second one was the same levels and lasted about the same length of time. The third one was done about a year later and involved segments of my C, T and L spine; I got relief in my C and L spine for approximately six months, which was incredible.

    The nerve is actually "stunned" by the heat, so it regenerates again; everyone is different when it comes to how long that takes and to what degree they'll get improvement.

    Good luck...hope it's a good option for you!!

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  • Hello All; painintheback

    Can not thank you enough for all these comments,

    I have an answer for pain in the back- you asked what levels for RF:
    L3 L5 and S1 bi lateral;

    L4 - the Md did not want to touch that as rod and screw are too close- he said he would not chance it.

    Yesterday, the 23rd Jan, I had medial branch block pre test and as I got off the table , the left leg dropped and had some numbness in foot and then right heel numbness.

    I had to sit a half hour and it passed.
    Then , I drove home- I live 7 minutes from MD's office - and later in day was able to pick up grandson at school.

    I feel Ok today- Md told me to keep regular schedule and test it out- drive- shop- housework whatever.,

    I am also thinking I do not want to drive home after Radio frequency.

    I have to call Md this coming Wed and let him know results of the medial branch test. Then, he will decide if RF is for me.

    Thanks all again - I am still nervous about this idea of burning nerves - it seems so dangerous.
    I worry about paralysis.

    Also I hope it will help right groin pain which is almost constant.

    Betty RI

    PLIF 10-07 L5/S1; rods, screws and doanted bone graft ; sudden recurrrence of groin and low back pain 4-08; blocks all summer '08; medial branch test 1-09
  • Don't fear, the nerves that will be burned only send pain signals, they have no affect on movement.
  • Wow Jay
    Thanks so much; that makes me feel better

    I did well Fri and Sat and today Sun the groin pain is there- and some aching all around the low spinal area

    Md said the medial branch was only a test and would not last.

    Guess he knew what he was talking about!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks so much I feel so much better now,
    This is why I love this site There is always someone out there who has an answer.

    RI PLIF 10-07 L5/S1; rods, screws and donated bone graft ; sudden recurrrence of groin and low back pain 4-08; blocks all summer '08; medial branch test 1-09

    edit reply quote
  • Betty , long time , no see. It seems as though you have already gotten some great advice so far...not too much that I can add. I also had the Branch Blocks and Rhizotomy done but it did not work for me unfortunately...I ended up in more pain. I don't say this to scare you because I remember the doc telling me that if I would have done well with the blocks(and you are right , the blocks are just tests , the pain relief doesn't last) that I would probably do well with the Rhizotomy...it seems that you have done well with the blocks so I am sure that you will get relief from the Rhizotomy....and that is what I will be praying for....the best of luck to you...please keep us posted as you can....take care....Miki
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