Why am I having a Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomy?
Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomies (RFN) have been performed safely for over 17 years for several types of pain, including neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain.
How does it work?
During the procedure a needle is placed either near the affected nerve, near the DRG (Dorsal Root Ganglion), where the nucleus of the nerve is located at the side of the spine, or on the nerve supplying a specific pain-?generating structure such as a joint. Traditional RFN treatment heats the nerve to 85!C. Pulsed RFN avoids heating the nerve, thus minimizing any further nerve damage. It is uncertain how it works, although studies suggest either altered function of the membrane of the smallest nerves or changes further up the nervous system.
Will it hurt?
All procedures are performed with an Anaesthetist present to provide sedation, so the procedure itself is comfortable. Usually to help locate the nerve we pass a small electrical stimulation though the needle to produce a sensation in the area you get your usual pain. You we need to be awake enough to tell us what you feel during this part of the procedure. Discomfort following the procedure may occur but is usually mild.
What conditions can be treated with Pulsed RFN?
Common conditions treated with Pulsed RFN include;
- Radicular pain – Neuropathic pain from the spine (sciatica)
- Occipital neuralgia
- Post-surgical neuropathic pain – eg. Post Inguinal Hernia Repair
- Suprascapular nerve for shoulder pain
- Medial branch nerves for facet joint spinal pain
How should I prepare?
Make sure you fully understand the procedure, including the reason it is being performed and the risks associated. There are additional requirements to allow sedation to be safely given. These include having nothing to eat or drink for six hours prior to your procedure and having a responsible adult to look after you for 24 hours following your procedure. In addition you should not drive or make important decisions for the first 24 hours following your procedure. If you take medications for Diabetes or blood-?thinning medications ensure you discuss this with your Pain Specialist to seek further instructions.
How long will the relief last?
The average duration of benefit is 4-?6 months depending on the nerve being treated. However, this ranges from 4 weeks to 18 months. Sometimes there is no benefit.
What are the risks?
The needle used is small but may cause a bruise. This can produce discomfort for a few days. There is a risk of infection either at the skin or deeper, which may cause fever or worsening pain. The local anaesthetic may temporarily block the nerve being treated, causing weakness or numbness.
What happens next?
Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomies are very safe and can provide excellent and sustained relief of pain. However, there benefit is greatest when combined with a comprehensive pain management plan. Please discuss this further with your Pain Specialist.
Please contact Wesley Pain Management or visit wapm.com.au