Back and Neck Pain
Chronic neck and back pain can be disabling and negatively impact one’s quality of life and ability to perform daily activities including work and avocational activities. If symptoms persist, further testing can be done to determine the exact cause of the pain. If it is demonstrated through medial branch blocks (see blog “Medial Branch Blockade – The Double Block Paradigm”) a radiofrequency neurotomy or RF can be performed.
Chronic Pain Relief With Radiofrequency Neurotomy
The use of radiofrequency heat has been used for medical treatments over the last several decades. The RF heat is produced by a special heat generator. The heat can be precisely controlled both in temperature and location. In the treatment of neck or back pain, the RF is used to treat facet or zygapophyseal joint pain. Less frequently, RF has been applied in different forms to the disc and spinal nerves.
Effectiveness of Radiofrequency Neurotomy in Treating Chronic Neck & Back Pain
There is medical literature which has scientifically validated the effectiveness of RF in the treatment of chronic zygapophyseal (facet) joint pain. The procedure requires the x-ray (fluoroscopic) guided placement of specialized needles parallel to the medial branches providing sensory feedback from the affected joints. These small medial branch nerves allow the sensation of pain from the joint to reach our nervous system. These nerves do not provide function to the muscles or nerves of the arms or legs. Using scientifically validated techniques, heat is applied to the medial branch, which “coagulates.” This coagulation renders the proteins contained within the nerve branches functionless. The process is similar to turning the clear portion of an egg in a frying pan white.
Relatively Painless Procedure That May Be Repeated
The RF procedure is relatively painless and can be performed with only local anesthetic. If necessary, conscious sedation can be performed intravenously to minimize the patient’s anxiety. The procedure is effective for a prolonged duration of generally 6-12 months. When the nerve proteins are reformed and then the nerve begins to function normally, there can be return of the pain sensation. At that time, the RF procedure can be repeated. There are no limits as to the number of times the RF can be performed.
If you are suffering from chronic neck or back pain, the RF procedure may provide life-altering pain relief. If you should have questions regarding this intervention, please contact us by email or call us at (610) 954-9400 to schedule an appointment with the doctor.