Pulsed Radiofrequency is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radio frequency energy to disable or desensitize pain-causing nerves. The difference with Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) is that Pulsed Radiofrequency is applied to the target nerve at shorter intervals at a lower temperature and does not destroy the nerve itself, but, rather, just “stuns” the nerve. Pulsed radiofrequency is normally used to treat pain arising from hypersensitive neuralgia, overly sensitized nerve in the spine, such as lower-back pain.
How is Pulsed Radiofrequency Performed?
Pulsed Radiofrequency is done under local anaesthesia. Mild sedation may also be used to minimize discomfort during the procedure. Pulsed Radiofrequency is delivered through a needle into the target nerve under X-ray guidance. You will be awake during the procedure, and you will be asked if you can feel any tingling sensation – this is to ensure the needle is in the right place. Once the needle is placed correctly, radiofrequency energy is then delivered to the target area to “stun” the nerve, unlike RFA that “burns” away nerves. Pulsed Radiofrequency does not generate any heat and does not damage the nerves when appropriately applied. Pulsed Radiofrequency uses electrical energy to increase nerve cell activity and encourage nerve cells to regenerate. It eliminates pain while allowing surrounding tissues to recover. Once the cycle of pain is broken, the originally painful joint is rehabilitated by physiotherapy.
Who will Benefit from Pulsed Radiofrequency?
People with chronic pain in the lower back and neck, frozen shoulder, and migraine, can be helped by using pulsed radiofrequency stimulation. The most common cause of these painful conditions is the damaged nerves in various body parts.
What is Recovery Like?
This is a day-surgery procedure. The patient can go home on the same day and, the next day, get back to work or to his/her daily activities. The patient will not need long duration of rest in bed.
Is the Pain Relief Permanent?
For many patients who suffer chronic pain, Pulsed Radiofrequency, in isolation, is an effective treatment that can provide relief for months or more. If the patient responds well to the first session of Pulsed Radiofrequency, the procedure may be repeated if the pain returns.
What are the Risks and Side Effects?
There are no risks of side effects to Pulsed Radiofrequency treatment of facet joint pain. This is absolutely safe, without any risk of paralysis or nerve injury. Post procedure, there may be some numbness in that area of treatment. This may last 6 weeks to 2 months.