Radiofrequency ablation is a commonly used procedure for the management of chronic low back pain and neck pain. It is used for managing pain secondary to arthritis of the joints in the spine and offers a safe, effective non surgical, minimally invasive option for patients suffering with longstanding back and neck pain. This procedure is also used for sacroiliac joint pain as in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.
Advantages of this procedure include
- No requirement for hospital stay or prolonged rehabilitation
- Normal activities can generally be resumed soon after the procedure with little recovery time
- Less pain can lead to improved functionality and reduced medication requirements
- Lasting pain relief for and a low complication rate
Chronic back and neck pain
Spine is made up of a number of vertebrae which are stacked one above the other. These vertebrae are cushioned anteriorly by the disc and join with each other posteriorly at joints called the facet joints. There are two facet joints at each level. Wear and tear, degeneration of these joints can lead to back or neck pain. This condition is called facet joint arthritis or facet arthropathy. Pain originating from facet joint arthritis is generally described as a dull ache accompanied by stiffness. It is not uncommon for the pain in lower back to radiate along the back of thighs up to the knee joint. Similarly pain from lower neck (cervical) joints can radiate to in between the shoulder blades or the shoulder joint and that from upper neck joints can cause headaches.
Pain sensations form the facet joints are transmitted to brain via nerves called the medial branches. These nerves are the target in the radiofrequency treatment
Radiofrequency ablation involves placing special needles, using x-ray guidance, close to the nerves carrying pain sensation from the affected facet joints. Using specialised equipment a small area of these nerves is heated using the electric current produced by radio waves. This reduces the pain signals being transmitted by the nerves to the brain resulting in pain relief. This is a day care procedure performed under local anaesthesia and can provide long lasting pain relief.
Dr. Manocha has been formally trained in performing this procedure in the U.K. and U.S. The technique he uses isthe same as advocated by International Spine Society giving you the best chances of having a successful outcome.