Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Back Pain Forum

nerve ablation

Must Read
What structures make up the spine? We review basic spine anatomy here...before identifying potential causes of back pain....
Click here to learn about the most common causes of back pain, and things that increase your risk of backache. We cover lower back pain and upper back pain....
Back pain symptoms may seem obvious. But do you know when symptoms of back pain are more serious or when to see a doctor? Learn what action to take & when...
Hi, I am a 40 year old female, single, with 4 small children. Additionally,I am taking care of my 70 year old mother who has severe trauma to the head, as the result of a fall, and my father who is totally disabled. I visited the pain clinic yesterday, and was told I needed this procedure. I was hoping to get the "trigger point" shots, which is what I thought I was going for. Is there anyone who has actually had this procedure done, that is willing to share their story. I cannot afford to take a chance on "more" pain. However, after 17 years, it has reached an unmanageable point again. My children and parents depend on me. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer.
Did you find this post helpful?

replied January 19th, 2009
Extremely eHealthy
What kid of spine problem are you having?

What have you been diagnosed with?

Have you been diagnosed by a spine specialist?

Why where you told you "need this procedure".

What other conservative treatments have you tried?

I'm seeing many, many red flags in your post without the above listed information not provided in your post.

To start with, the usual standard procedure is to determine if you are a candidate for RFA/radio frequency nerve ablation.

That involves testing first.

Testing involves, in an OR setting, lidocaine injection or injections placed into the facet area that is suspected of causing your pain.
This is done by a pain management doctor and can be done using sedation or just lidocaine to numb the injection site first and must be done by a pain management doctor that uses floroscopy to do the injections. That provides the safety that the needles are going into the correct location and not going to result in creating problems or complications. If you can not find out if the doctor uses floroscopy or he/she says no they don't, then find another doctor and never use one that does not use floroscopy. It is far to dangerous to use a doctor that doesn't.

Afterwards you will be given a journal to record specific information as to how the lidocaine has worked and how your pain relief is during that period of time.

You will also be given pain meds and muscle relaxers as the injections into the area can result in muscle spasms that can be quite painful.

The lidocaine injections will provide temporary relief if the area they are injected into is causing the pain.

After about 2 weeks you will return to the Pain management doctor to go over the results of the injections.

If you are a candidate for the RFA/radio frequency nerve ablation, in other words, the lidocaine injections relieved your pain for a day, then you will have to decide if you want to have the procedure done.

To have the radio frequency nerve ablation done, you again have it done in an OR setting and again you must use a doctor that uses floroscopy to do this.

This time you must be awake to have this procedure done and no sedation. You must be able to feel the nerve when the doctor touches the nerves so that he severs the correct nerve to relieve the pain.

Lidocaine will be used for the initial injection site, then a catheter is placed into the spine at the area of the nerves to be severed. A type of probe is place into the catheter to touch the nerves and find the correct nerve that is causing pain.

Unfortunately, this can be quite painful when the correct nerve is located. Then the devise is inserted to sever that particular nerve and only that nerve.

After the procedure is done, you will be given instructions for post procedure that may or may not restrict your activity for a few days.

Most people find that not only is the actual procedure quite painful but afterwards there is a considerable amount of pain and muscle spasm for up to several weeks and take pain meds and muscle relaxers to ease that pain.

Whether the nerve ablation will or will not work for you to relieve pain in the end is an individual thing. No doctor can be sure it will or will not work.
That is why I see red flags in your post when you say "you where told that you need this procedure".

You don't "need" it, it is an option that may or may not relieve you pain.

Certain areas of the spine can be relieved with RFA, but not all and as I said, it is not at all a sure thing that it will work.

The other thing also, is the length of time the pain relief will last. The nerves will regenerate and grow back. any where from 6 weeks to 18 months. No one can tell you how quickly they will grow back but they will grow back.

Some people have found that the pain returns worse than before and others have said that it wasn't as bad as it originally was.

It is a procedure that can continue to be repeated as well.

Please answer the questions that I posted when I started this post and then there can be better information provided to you.

Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 2nd, 2009
my dad is 88 yrs old & is having a nerve ablation on Friday. He is a very frail old man & i'm very worried about the procedure & what he will have to go through...can someone give me some reassurace please..
Did you find this post helpful?

replied March 3rd, 2009
Extremely eHealthy
If you are concerned about nerve ablation for your father, I would suggest that you speak with his doctor before he has it done.

Is your father having one nerve done or more than one?

Some people have no problems afterwards in terms of pain and discomfort and others do.
It can be very individual with each person.

Will your father have someone with him afterwards and to stay a few days?
You might want to consider that to help him out if he needs that.

Will he be able to contact his doctor if his pain increases and he needs medication?

Why is your father having nerve ablation done?

Did you find this post helpful?