Chronic Pain: Can Radiofrequency Ablation Help?

Chronic Pain: Can Radiofrequency Ablation Help?

Chronic pain seems to echo around your body, felt everywhere and nowhere, without a clear physical cause like an injury to explain your pain symptoms. As a way to give lasting relief from chronic pain, blocking nerve pain signals with radiofrequency (RF) ablation shows promise.

At Alpenglow Pain & Wellness, interventional pain management specialist Dr. Nichelle Renk treats male and female patients for chronic pain complaints. From her office in Anchorage, Alaska, she is one of just two providers in the state to provide both conventional and cooled radiofrequency ablation treatment.

Talk to Dr. Renk about your chronic pain symptoms, and find out if you could be a candidate for RF ablation treatment.

RF ablation for chronic pain

You can tame the overactive nerves that keep you in pain with RF ablation treatment. Dr. Renk believes in the essential importance of staying at the forefront of technological developments for the treatment of pain conditions, and offers multiple types of RF treatments for chronic pain problems.

RF ablation therapy is a good treatment option for patients with neck pain, mid back pain, lower back pain, and joint pain related to arthritis, especially in your knees and sacroiliac joints.

Dr. Renk may recommend RF ablation treatment if you suffer from post-traumatic pain or whiplash, post-spinal surgery pain, or an inflammatory condition. RF ablation treatment can also help with nerve entrapment syndrome.

How RF ablation works

RF ablation uses radiofrequency energy to heat and deactivate pain nerves. RF ablation treatment is an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require general anesthesia. You won’t have an incision as part of RF ablation treatment.

Dr. Renk identifies the small sensory nerves that cause your chronic back, neck, or arthritic joint pain. You lie on your stomach on an X-ray table during your procedure which allows Dr. Renk to always see exactly where her needle tip is.

With the guidance of live video X-ray imaging, Dr. Renk positions a small, insulated needle probe into the posterior and lateral spine, targeting the problem nerve with electrical pulses. Pulses of RF energy heat the targeted nerve, destroying its ability to transmit pain signals to your brain. The treated nerve still functions in other ways, but can’t transmit pain signals after ablation.

Your RF ablation procedure typically takes less than half an hour. If needed, Dr. Renk can provide intravenous medication to keep you relaxed during your treatment session. She uses an injection of a local anesthetic to numb the treatment area before activating the RF conductor.

Cooled RF ablation

Dr. Renk and her team at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness use the COOLIEF® system to provide cooled RF ablation treatment. This technology circulates water through the probe at the same time as RF energy pulses are emitted, expanding the potential treatment area for better long-term pain relief.

COOLIEF also protects your other nerves from being overheated, preventing side effects like inflammation in the tissues around the treatment area.

What to expect after treatment

You won’t need extensive recovery time after this minimally invasive treatment, and can expect to start feeling pain relief results in 1-2 weeks. Take it easy for just 24 hours following your treatment sessions.

Unlike surgical treatment options, you won’t need prescription pain medication during a long recovery. Any discomfort should be manageable with over-the-counter pain medications. You may see some bruising, skin discoloration, and mild swelling or bleeding around the needle’s insertion site. 

Some patients experience post-treatment leg numbness that resolves within a few hours.

RF ablation has a high success rate in reducing or fully resolving symptoms of chronic pain for up to 12 months after treatment. Most patients in clinical studies receiving treatment with COOLIEF reported significant pain reduction following RF ablation.

To learn more about how RF ablation could help with your chronic pain, contact Dr. Renk at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness today. Schedule your appointment online, or call 907-677-7246 now to book your consultation with Dr. Renk.

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