Millions of people around the world suffer from chronic back pain. Often the pain is severe, debilitating and affects sufferers’ quality of life.
A new treatment that is now available through Cayman Neurology and Pain Management Ltd. at the West Shore Centre could provide some long term relief.
Radio Frequency Ablation for the treatment of chronic, severe back pain has a high success rate and complications are rare.
A minimally invasive treatment, Radio Frequency Ablation (also called radio frequency lesioning) is an outpatient treatment that works by blocking certain neural pathways that send pain messages to the brain.
A variety of studies have found that this treatment can significantly reduce severity and frequency for anything from six months to two years.
In extreme cases, where other treatments such as physiotherapy, chiropractic or acupuncture have failed to help, some back pain sufferers may even consider surgery. Radio frequency ablation, however, is a much less invasive procedure and has a better success rate. It carries none of the risks of open surgery and general anaesthesia, as it is performed under local anaesthetic with a mild sedative. While almost half of back pain sufferers report no improvement following surgery, more than 70 per cent of patients treated with RFA experience pain relief.
RFA has very few associated complications and side effects are generally discomfort, swelling and bruising at the site of the treatment. This generally goes away after a few days.
RFA can be used to help patients with chronic lower back and neck pain as well as pain related to the degeneration of joints due to arthritis.
The procedure works by applying heat to certain nerve pathways in order to shut off pain transmissions to the brain.
Patients will normally be given an IV and local anaesthetic and a mild sedative will be administered. It is normal to be awake throughout the process as this benefits the doctor in assessing the procedure.
The doctor will identify the nerve or nerves that are causing the pain. A small needle is then inserted into the area where pain is felt and, using an X-ray, the doctor guides the needle to the exact target area. A microelectrode is then inserted through the needle to begin the stimulation process, which stimulates the surrounding tissue. This may be felt as a buzzing or tingling sensation. The heat stuns the nerves, blocking them from sending pain signals to the brain.
The procedures takes between 20 minutes and one hour depending on how many, and which, nerves are being blocked.
The pain relief afforded by Radio Frequency Ablation can be significantly longer lasting than steroid injections, and following the procedure patients can experience greater range of motion, a lower use of analgesics and the recovery time is shorter.
A physician visits Cayman Neurology & Pain Management on a monthly basis to offer radio frequency ablation.
For more information or to schedule an appointment call 943-6900.