There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and they all have two things in common: First, they all lead to joint pain and inflammation, and second, there’s no cure for the diseases.
If you find yourself among the one in four adults who has doctor-diagnosed arthritis in the United States, one of your best options for managing your arthritis is to find ways to relieve the pain so that you can move freely.
At Spine & Orthopedic Center, Dr. Rajiv Sood specializes in joint diseases and understands the frustration of trying to manage arthritis. While we offer several effective options for managing pain and inflammation, we’ll focus on the role radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can play when you have arthritis.
When you experience pain, there are specific nerve fibers that are irritated or damaged, causing them to send pain-signaling messages to your brain. This messaging alerts you to a problem so you can take steps to address it.
Unfortunately, because arthritis is incurable, the disease doesn’t go away, and, in the case of the most common form of arthritis — osteoarthritis — the condition is degenerative. This means that the pain will likely not only continue, it often gets worse as arthritis progresses. As a result, your nerves will continue to send the pain messaging to your brain unabated.
With RFA, we target the nerve fibers responsible for delivering the pain messaging and prevent them from sending out signals.
To accomplish this, we use radiofrequency energy to ablate the ends of the nerve, creating adhesions that block the signaling.
This technique is very effective for arthritis anywhere along your spine, including your lower back and neck.
In many cases, we may first perform a nerve block to ensure that we’ve correctly identified the nerves responsible for your pain. If we hit our target with a temporary nerve block, you should feel pain relief for about 24-48 hours.
The next step is to come in for your RFA procedure, which we perform here in our office on an outpatient basis. First, we make you comfortable on our treatment table, then we apply a local anesthetic to the area where we insert a needle.
Next, we use live X-ray guidance to guide the needle into position and release the RF energy. We often perform several nerve ablations, each taking only minutes. Once finished, you‘re free to go home, but we do ask you to take it easy for a few days.
Over a period of about 1-3 weeks, you should start to realize meaningful pain relief.
When it comes to how long your results will last, it’s hard to say here, but many patients enjoy months of pain relief. It’s important to understand that nerve endings can grow back, at which point you can see us for another round of RFA.
If you’d like to explore whether RFA is right for your arthritis pain, please contact our office in Jonesboro, Georgia, to schedule a consultation.