Which Patient Makes the Best Candidate for Radiofrequency Ablation?


Quick Answer

Patients who suffer neck or back pain due to arthritis, an injury or other facet joint problems are ideal candidates for radiofrequency ablation, according to OhioHealth MedCentral Hospitals. Patients with reflex sympathetic dystrophy affecting the arms or legs may also benefit from the procedure.

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In patients with neck or back pain caused by facet joint issues, radiofrequency ablation is performed to disrupt nerves directly connected to the facet joints, explains OhioHealth MedCentral Hospitals. People who experience stomach pain, occipital neuralgia or pain resulting from degenerative disks are also potential candidates for radiofrequency ablation.

Radiofrequency ablation is usually reserved for individuals who have already tried conventional treatments, such as physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and anti-inflammatory drugs, notes OhioHealth MedCentral Hospitals. It is essential that patients respond well to trial injections prior to undergoing the procedure.

Radiofrequency ablation decreases pain by blocking pain signals, states OhioHealth MedCentral Hospitals. In most patients, the pain controlled by the blocked nerve is eliminated; however, pain from other areas remains. With the use of electric current or radio waves, the procedure produces enough heat to stop nerve conduction for a short period. Nerves are typically blocked for six to nine months, but it’s possible for the nerves to remain blocked up to 18 months or longer.

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