Radio frequency ablation is a highly successful treatment for spinal nerve pain. A pain management specialist or neurosurgeon will use a thin needle to apply heat around the nerve causing pain, which will help to prevent the transmission of pain signals from that particular nerve. This is done by inserting the needle through the skin and using imaging to help the doctor guide the needle to the right place. An electrical current is used to heat the tip of the needle and treat the nerve. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, in a sterile operating room. But what happens after the procedure?

Immediately After the Procedure

Because radio frequency ablation generally happens under anesthesia, you will be carefully monitored by nursing personnel following the procedure as the sedation wears off. You may feel some discomfort or soreness at the procedure site, as well as lingering drowsiness or disorientation from the anesthesia. You may be held for another 6 to 8 hours while medical staff monitors your recovery and ensures there aren’t any immediate complications. You will then be released into the care of friends or family—as long as someone is available to drive you home.

After Your Discharge

Many patients are able to return to their daily activities with some modifications as early as the day after the procedure. While you may be able to engage in your daily routine, you may find that you still want to rest for several days before returning to your normal activities. When you are discharged, your doctor may make recommendations to help you recover more comfortably.

Pain After Your Procedure

It’s not uncommon to feel some discomfort, superficial burning pain, or hypersensitivity in the area of the procedure. Some patients describe the feeling as similar to a sunburn. On average, this pain lasts no longer than 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure.

Full pain relief can be expected within 2 to 3 weeks after the procedure, since it can take some time for the ablated nerves to die and stop sending pain signals. It is possible that you may feel uncharacteristically weak in the back or neck during this time, which will fade as you recover.

Continuing Your Treatment After the Procedure

Because it is likely that you will still have some lingering pain during your recovery, you may be given instructions to apply ice or heat to the area to relieve pain. You may also receive s prescription for a pain reliever or be given medication directions for over-the-counter painkillers.

It’s very common for patients suffering from chronic pain to become deconditioned, since they find it difficult to remain active with their pain. If you are lacking strength, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy sessions to help them gain strength again.

Over time, the treated nerves will grow back, but you may not experience the pain again. If pain does reoccur with nerve growth, your pain management specialist may recommend a second procedure to relieve your pain.

Do you suffer from chronic pain? If you’ve tried a variety of treatments for your pain without seeing any results, radio frequency ablation may be right for you. At Pain Medicine Group, we offer personalized treatment plans for a variety of pain conditions. Schedule your first appointment with our Fort Meyers pain management specialists to discuss your treatment needs.

Contact our offices online, or call (888) 832-3597 to begin.

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