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RFA failure or part of the process??

I had my RFA done almost 2 weeks ago (22nd) I had the usual, expected discomfort, right afterwards. Iced the area and took my dr.'s advice and took it easy for a few days. Since then I have noticed that things seem good and I get the feeling it has worked as long as I'm sedentary, but when I try to increase my activity my legs end up aching so badly and the pain increases in my lower back and right hip. At almost 2 weeks, its it just too early to tell if this is going to work or should there have been a noticeable improvement by now?? I know that it could take up to 6-8 weeks. If there nerves were burned into, how am I still feeling this same exact pain that I felt before the RFA?

This is hurting so bad right now, I could absolutely give into tears. The pain is consuming my whole being. It's very painful. Shouldn't I now be able to increase my activity and notice some kind of difference in my pain levels??? It's so frustrating, I allow myself to be convinced by my dr's that this would help and here I lay on my couch, 2 weeks later, with no benefit from this procedure. What works for all this back pain? Where do the answers lie? What is the next step if this does not work?

I know this is done if the culprit is expected to be arthritis. But could my pain actually be coming from the central canal stenosis that was discovered after an MRI, right before my RFA?? I'm suspecting now that this is the case and my pain is not coming from my facet or SI joints but rather from the stenosis.

I wish I could take a break from having to be attached to my legs. This just plain hurts.
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13

Comments

  • taren
    for someone who has gone though the back pain mill for years, i confess my ignorance. what is rfa and why is it painful and what is it supposed to do. there are all sorts of back letters that i have no idea what they mean. please help me
    jon
    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.
  • TarenTTaren Posts: 524
    edited 05/03/2014 - 1:02 PM
    I'm sorry, RFA is Radiofrequency Abalation. Its the procedure that is done on the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar area of the spine. RFA involves applying heat to certain nerve (burning them into) pathways to shut off the pain signals to the brain. Its done when facet joint and/or SI joint arthritis are a suspected source of pain. If you have ever heard people say nerve burning or burning the nerves, this is the same as RFA. Its done on an outpatient basis under fluoroscopy.

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  • i think i had it done once and it hurt like hecy darn. the guy did not tell me he was going to do it. it thought i was just having an injection. i have had injections and this was not pain from an injection. it made me yell out in pain
    thanks
    jon
    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.
  • TarenTTaren Posts: 524
    edited 05/03/2014 - 1:28 PM
    Yessss, that's it, Jon. If it hurt like nobody's business then you probably had it done...I have held off on saying how bad the actual procedure was on here cuz I didnt want to scare anyone out of doing it lol. The part that made you hurt so hecky darned bad was when they touched your raw nerve with the needle--I told someone, it hurt so bad that I almost chewed the table, I was laying on, into!!! It made me cry, I had mascara everywhere that day!!!
  • it felt like i was being burned inside
    jon
    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.
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  • The clinic I used to go to did it under complete sedation. I'm still not sure if this was good or bad..obviously kinder for me but is there some reason it should be done without sedation that I missed? I found the "you may feel a little tenderness for a few days" to be the understatement of the year!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • You were completely out, English??? To answer your question, yes, you need to be conscious to be able to answer the dr's questions, so that he knows he's burning the correct nerves. Some places will give you something so you will be able to take the pain associated with your RFA, usually fentanyl and maybe a sedative of some sort & some places (like mine) just give you a smack on your bare hind-end and assure you that "they feel your pain" and that it will all be over soon. It was so painful that I was was crying. And yes, the "you may feel a little tenderness for a few days" is definitely an understatement. I had less pain while giving birth, and it was natural child birth...This RFA could not have been more painful than if I had of had my daughter out my other end--know what I mean ;-) Thank God that our mind is rigged to forget the exact way these things feel.
  • Taren, I've had the RFA twice, the first time I got probably 9 months relief from, the 2nd sadly only a matter of weeks. However, in both cases I found it took a couple of weeks to settle down to what at the time were my normal pain levels and then things began to slowly improve, and I hope you begin to see an improvement. It can take some time for the nerves to actual die off, so you can get some heightening of pain in the meantime.
  • Yea, that's what I hoping this extra bit of pain is, just the nerves dying off. They (nerves) are really angry with me, they remind me that THEY are STILL in charge when I decide to start walking more. I am almost 2 weeks into it & I'm hoping they are about settled down and I can achieve the relief that I have been told about. I was hoping to have my SI joints burned too, but I guess I will have to wait and see how the lumbar area is gonna respond.

    Ty so much for telling me how your RFA went, it gives me re-newed hope that I will have some sort of relief with this. I have read your stories in the past & I'm sorry that you are not, yet, where you would like to be after your fusion--Hang in there ;-)
  • Thanks Taren, I've just seen my consultant who met with my surgeons and am going to be scheduled for a triple round of injections in the next few weeks; nerve block, Caudal Epidural and Facet Joints, in the hope that they can settle the nerves down now that the mechanical issues have been resolved with the fusion, so hopefully I will improve further. I don't like to complain though, because I am still even now at a much better point and able to do many more things like playing golf and walking several miles, just want to try and get the nerves to settle. Wish you continued improvement :-)
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