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RFA for sacral pain

msjanmmsjan Posts: 14
edited 10/27/2014 - 4:12 PM in Chronic Pain
I had a RFA...one per side (buttocks) for sacral pain from sacral surgery. It worked like a charm. I was/am? ready to do it again but reading here that it's .......

Success rates vary, but typically about 30% to 50% of patients undergoing this procedure for low back pain will experience significant pain relief for as much as two years. Of the remaining low back pain patients, about 50% will get some pain relief for a shorter period.

Some patients do not experience any relief from pain as a result of this procedure.

Overall, success rates are greater in the cervical spine (neck) than in other areas.
Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy Video
Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy Video

As a general rule, if effective, the ablation will often provide pain relief lasting at least 9 to 14 months and sometimes for longer. After this period of time, however, the nerve will regenerate and the pain may return.

Mine lasted over 2 years. Weird by standards/posts here. Now I'm afraid to do it but the burning is killing me.....I used to have nerve pain attacks where I couldn't even take breath normally as it hurt too much...I'd drop to the floor and for several minutes (seemed like forever) I was in too much pain to even cry. I thought my heart would stop...I couldn't even breathe! just tiny breaths and they about killed me. That hasn't happened again but now I have periods of time with really bad burning. I'm doing a block to the SI joint tomorrow. Too late to talk to anyone here about it...and an abdomen block for other abdomen pain. The 3 steriod shots didn't help alot but the RFAs did. One steriod helped some. Still I had to do 3 and just barely passed enough for insurance to cover it. Shows what they know. .as the RFAs worked great! for a LONG time! But now I read where it COULD make the pain worse. Can that be? Yes it can...and I'm terrified. If it's so bad now I can't stand it what will I do if it gets worse? I'm near the breaking point with this nerve pain.....I WAS at that point before the RFAs though. How awful to choose...and with the above stated success rate...At least the stats above don't say it can get worse but other boards people report that it did. What will I do then?


  • In my experience many doctors don't warn patients that a flare of pain is very common after most of these kinds of procedures. When I first had spinal shots & RFAs I was sent home with a piece of paper that stated 'It may be a little tender at the injection site for a few days. If this occurs ice can help'. For me (& many others) it hurt a LOT & it's essential that I get ice on there as soon as possible.
    I think many patients are blind sided by the increase in pain. They think it's unusual & it will be with them forever! Sometimes you have to be careful about the things you read on forums. Most who have great results from procedures don't search the Internet & post. You're often reading the very worse case scenarios.
    I take those freezer blocks (from kids lunch boxes) & ice on the way home. I do get an increase in pain but it's completely expected now. Sometimes procedures work well for me, others not so much. I still have them done!
    I've been a chronic spine pain sufferer for a long time now. Nearly everything I have done & every med I take has possible risks & side effects. Living with unrelenting pain is very dangerous & damaging to our bodies. We have to make the difficult choices & do the best we can. Permanent damage from the procedures you're talking about are very rare. If I'd had the kind of success you've experienced in the past I'd be knocking their door down, begging them to do it again!
    I had my SI joint injected with diagnostic numbing agent & steroids a short while ago. The results didn't last long for me but I'm currently trying to get a repeat pre-approved by my insurance! It was lovely to have a little relief for even a short time & it might last longer next time!!
    Best of luck! Let us know how it goes for you & remember ice can be your best friend ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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