Radio Frequency Ablation for nerve related pain

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Has anyone heard of or had their physician administer the technique of radio frequency ablationn for pain relief?  I have a torn labrum in my hip and my doctor is recommending this as a possible alternative to surgery.  The area is in the groin and its hard to look forward to the insertion of needles through which radio waves pass for as long as 90 seconds.  But if anyone out there has experienced a reduction or elimination of pain through this method. please let me know.  I am quite leary and are getting another opinion.

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  • Posted

    Hi Paula

    I've been getting frequency abalation lesioning done on my neck and back for the past 6 years.  I usually opt for sedation when getting my back done, but I don't get any sedation for my neck.  I get huge relief from it... though I'm not getting as long out of it as I used to.  I'd definitely recommend getting it done.  I had really bad sciatica for the past 2 months to the point I was walking with a limp.  I had bruises down the back of my leg from digging in, trying to relieve the pain.  I had the procedure done last Thursday and I got immediate relief.  It can take 4 weeks to get the full benefit of the procedure but I see a huge improvement already. 

    Opt for sedation if you can but if they don't offer it to you, don't worry.. you'll be fine. I would definitely recommend trying it.  You've nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Best of luck with whatever you decide

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    • Posted

      Hello Jen,

      Thanks for the information.  Have you ever heard of this procedure done on the hip?  How long does a "session" (?) take?  What kind of sedation are you referring to--pills i.e. valium or intravenous?  I'm so glad to have found someone who know this and has experience.  Thanks.

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    • Posted

      Hi paula

      I personally have never had it on my hip but I assume it involves the same type of procedure.

      The procedure doesn't take long at all.. I'm usually in and out in 15-20mins. My first one was the longest, I guess because I was nervous and I didn't know what to do (what position to be in) and I was asking a lot of questions lol.

      For me, the area is disinfected and local anaesthetic is injected. Then they insert the ports (near the nerve/nerves that are causing the pain) and wire is fed through that. This wire is heated and steroids and local anaesthetic are injected to help minimise pain and swelling afterwards. A dressing is put on the injection site and then I'm good to go... Till the next time :-)

      I have only been sedated buy injection.. I'm not sure what it is... But i assume valium or something like it. It's enough to knock me out for a few mins.

      When are you due to have the procedure?

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    • Posted

      On the visit before the RFA I'm due to go in and have a shot of some kind that is supposedly a diagnostic or a way to locate the proper area of treatment.  Then I follow up a week later for the actual treatment.  I don't think this procedure is very common for my problem--which is diagnosed as a tear in the labrum of the hip.  It affects the groin area and is thought to cause the extremely disruptive pain in my legs throughout most nights.  I'm not so sure they are related as I've also had two surgeries for disk herniations that blew stuff on my nerves and caused permenant damage then. Another consideration for the tear might be arthroscopic surgery to repair it. Honestly it's been going on so long with so many stages  that I just want to cry.  It is an impossible dream to find some physican who will take the long view and also be a guide for managing the symptoms.  Perhaps just the injected sedation is the best management period. 
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    • Posted

      You poor girl!  It sounds as though you've been through the mill and are still going through it.  I really feel for you Paula.  There's nothing worse than having nerve pain...it's enough to drive anyone out of their mind!

      The diagnostic, I think, is a deep injection of anaesthetic and steroid ... and if that gives you relief then the RFA should give you relief.  My understanding of the whole thing is that the aim is to 'break' the signal going from the affected nerve to the brain so you won't feel the pain.  The issue will still be there, you just won't feel it.  I've been seeing my pain specialist for the last 7 years.  I find the waiting to get the procedure the worst.  The waiting list is months long here (and that's with private health insurance) so now when I'm having RFA done, I ask my pain specialist to make my next appointment ... for about 7-8months time.  I can cancel / reschedule it if I don't need it, but at least I know I have a date in case I do.

      I would recommend trying the RFA before the surgery but I guess it would depend on how bad the tear is.  You might be better off having the tear repaired if they can do that.

      I find the RFA works brilliantly for my sciatica.  So hopefully it will work for your leg pain.  I go from having constant pain down my leg and not being able to walk without a limp to being painfree and being able to walk for miles.  It can take 4 weeks to work but I usually get a couple of years out of it.  My neck pain is more complicated and while it helps, I don't get the same relief.  It affects everyone differently and I really hope it works for you.  It's living hell when you're living with pain everyday... It's hard, I know, but try to stay positive and keep pushing forward... and keep pushing your doctors to find the best solution for you.  I wish you the best x

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  • Posted

    Great discription of the RFA procedure!  I just had  my lumbar spine done for the second time.  I have 3 or 4 different issues going on there.  The first ablation I had lasted close to 2 yrs.  I think the average is 1 yr. if you'r lucky. I recommend this treatment to everyone with spine pain.  The specialist will decide if you're a candidate  for it.  And as you mentioned,  I was totally pain free after a week or two.  It's truly a blessing for many people.
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