How Successful is Radiofrequency Ablation in Remedying Chronic Neck and Back Pain?

Neck Pain, Radiofrequency Ablation, Neck Pain, Back Pain

You’ve tried everything from massage to injections to lifestyle adjustments, but you still have chronic neck or back pain. Chronic pain — which is pain that continues for at least three months — can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Either the original injury healed, or you and your doctor can’t determine what’s causing the pain in the first place.


When you feel pain, it’s because your nerves are sending signals to your brain that alert it to some sort of physical damage. Whether the pain you feel is due actual injuries to your tissues,  a misalignment in your spine, or damage to the nerves themselves, the one thing you want is continuous, reliable relief. And the one thing you’d probably like to avoid is surgery.


Dr. Sham Vengurlekar of Premier Pain Institute has been treating acute and chronic pain in women and men in the Phoenix area for nearly 40 years. One of the most exciting developments in chronic pain treatment is minimally invasive, nonsurgical radiofrequency ablation (RFA).


RFA for chronic back pain relief

If you suffer from chronic back pain, two major types of nerves may be involved in your discomfort: the medial branch nerve and the lateral branch nerves.


The medial branch nerves affect your lumbar facet joints, which are small, paired joints on the edge of your lumbar spine. Facet joints are responsible for up to about 40% of cases of chronic lower back pain.


The lateral branch nerves supply the sacroiliac joints, which is where your pelvis connects with your lower spine (sacrum). If your sacroiliac area is involved in your chronic back pain, you may notice your pain radiating into your buttocks or down your thighs.


In clinical studies, approximately 85% of women and men who are treated with RFA in the medial branch nerves experience pain relief for up to 10 months. About 89% of patients who receive RFA on lateral branch nerves experienced pain relief of more than 50% for up to 9 months. The RFA therapy can repeated when necessary.

RFA for chronic neck pain  

Your cervical spine (neck) is the thinnest portion of your spine, and yet it’s responsible for all of your head movements and keeping your head balanced and aligned. Medial branch nerves in the cervical spine can become pinched or degenerated due to overuse or injury. Dr. Vengurlekar identifies the nerves that are causing your pain with a cervical block, and then treats them with RFA.


As with RFA for chronic back pain, you may experience a reduction of pain of greater than 50% that can last for three months to up to a year. Chronic neck pain treatment with RFA has virtually no side effects, so you can get another treatment whenever the pain returns.

90 minutes = 9 months of relief

Getting relief from RFA only takes about 90 minutes per treatment. Dr. Vengurlekar helps you relax by administering a mild sedative. During your procedure, you lie prone on the treatment table, and Dr. Vengurlekar numbs the treatment area with a local anesthetic.


Using fluoroscopy, a form of X-ray guidance, Dr. Vengurlekar inserts a needle to locate the targeted nerve. He then sends an RF current that travels at the speed of light through the needle. The energy ablates (injures) the nerve and prevents it from functioning normally; it can’t send pain signals anymore.  


By undergoing RFA therapy for your chronic pain, you can reduce or eliminate your dependency on oral pain medications. Pain relief from RFA tends to be greater and longer lasting than nerve injections.


To find out if you’re a candidate for RFA to treat your chronic neck pain or back pain, phone us today or book an appointment with the online form.

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