What Are the Most Serious Side Effects of Spinal Ablation?

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The most serious side effects of spinal ablation include permanent nerve pain, infections and allergic reactions, says Spine-health. These serious complications occur only rarely. Also known as radiofrequency neurotomy, spinal ablation reduces spinal pain caused by facet joint inflammation. Less serious spinal ablation side effects include sunburn-like pain and sensitivity in the treatment area and skin numbness.

Radiofrequency neurotomy works by interrupting the sensory nerves that supply spinal facet joints, according to the National Spine & Pain Centers. Doctors perform this procedure after ruling out other pain sources.

One spinal ablation procedure can lead to prolonged pain relief, advises the National Spine & Pain Centers. To start this procedure, physicians apply local anaesthetic to the patient’s skin near the affected area. Using X-ray technology to guide placement, doctors place radiofrequency needles adjacent to the nerves that feed the inflamed joint. Once the needles are correctly in place, thermal energy deadens nerves for long-term pain relief. Generally, the procedure takes 30 minutes, with a 30 minute observational period to ensure proper recovery.

If necessary, patients can repeat the procedure every six months, notes the National Spine & Pain Centers. A spinal ablation can facilitate pain relief lasting two years or even longer. Spinal ablation treats facet syndrome and post-laminectomy syndrome.