Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can be a gamechanger for the right candidate, alleviating pain that has previously been unresponsive to other treatment methods. It’s safe, effective, and the results last. Still, it isn’t the best choice for every type of back and neck pain. Rather, there are two specific types of pain that account for the majority of RFA procedures.
RFA for Facet Joint Pain
Facet joints connect the vertebrae of the spine. As one would expect, these joints aid in movement of the spine, allowing it to bend and twist as needed. Nerves run through the spinal column, including facet joints, to reach other parts of the body like the arms and legs. Sometimes, these joints can become inflamed due to an injury or health condition like arthritis. When this happens, the nerve roots running through the joint may become compressed and result in pain. Disorders of the facet joints include spinal osteoarthritis and spondylosis.
While treatment methods such as facet joint injections and pain medications may be able to offer relief, some patients will require additional treatment with radiofrequency ablation. RFA performed on the facet joints is known as medial branch RFA. During the procedure, an electrode is guided through a needle with the aid of x-ray technology. Once in place, the electrode uses heat to destroy part of the nerve root responsible for pain. Studies have shown that this treatment is successful in relieving facet joint pain in 45% to 60% of patients.
RFA for Sacroiliac Joint Pain
The sacroiliac joints connect the spine to the remainder of the pelvis and lower extremities. With that, they are joints that are under high levels of stress and sometimes develop forms of degenerative arthritis. They may also become painful due to injury or following pregnancy.
Radiofrequency ablation used to address SI joint pain is known as lateral branch RFA. As with medial branch RFA, this is accomplished by identifying the specific nerve roots responsible for pain and ablating them with extreme temperature. Studies show that RFA for SI joint pain is highly successful, relieving pain in 75% to 86% of patients.
Radiofrequency Ablation for Back Pain in Baton Rouge
If you are suffering from pain related to the facet or SI joints and are seeking relief, contact the Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge to learn more about your treatment options. Our team of spine and pain specialists can help you better understand the source of your pain and guide you through the treatment methods best suited for you.