Nerve Blocks for Facet Joint Pain and Sacroiliac Joint Pain with RFA Procedures
Another type of block called Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) can be
effective and will often provide relief that lasts for months or even years.
But, you need to have the right problem.
High Frequency Radio Waves
RFA uses high frequency radio waves to create heat in a very specific area. This heat is easy to control and can be used to cauterize nerves without damaging the surrounding tissue.
Cauterizing the nerves will relieve pain by blocking the pain signal that is traveling to your brain.
Blocks the Pain
Unfortunately, most cases of chronic pain involve multiple pain generators, or causes of pain, and hundreds if not thousands of nerves that would need to be cauterized to effectively relieve the pain.
This makes RFA impractical for most people who are living with chronic pain.
Two Areas that can be Treated
Luckily, there are two areas that can be successfully treated with RFA procedures to relieve pain
Two of the most common causes of chronic low back pain are facet joint pain and sacroiliac joint pain.
Lumbar Facet Joint Pain
can be treated with an RFA
Image thanks to Bruce Blaus, via Wikimedia Commons
Facet Joint Pain
Facet joints are the small joints on the back side of your spinal column that connect one vertebra to the next. A lifetime of active living will often cause painful arthritis in these joints resulting in chronic pain.
May be Neck Pain, Upper Back Pain, or Low Back Pain.
The facets are at every level of your spinal column.
Small nerves called The Medial Branch Nerves are the only nerves that go to these facet joints. Doctors have found that blocking these nerves completely blocks pain that is coming from the facet joints.
Pain management specialists will commonly block these Medial Branch Nerves with local anesthetic as a test. If local anesthetic provides good relief of your pain a RFA procedure can be done to provide long term relief.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain
RFA can also sometimes be used treat sacroiliac joint pain but the results are less reliable.
RFA Treatment is not for...
Even though RFA can be helpful for relieving low back pain that is coming from the facet joints and from the sacroiliac joints there are many other causes of low back pain that cannot be treated with RFA procedures.
Things like spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and sciatica cannot be treated with RFA because there is no one nerve or set of nerves that can be blocked to relieve the pain.
RFA is not Perfect
The RFA works best for people who have only facet joint pain or only sacroiliac joint pain.
Most people living with chronic back pain have several different factors contributing to the overall pain that they experience.
You may have painful facet joints or sacroiliac joints but when you also have degenerative discs, or spinal stenosis, or other problems contributing to your overall low back pain you may not notice much relief with the RFA procedure.
Ask Your Doctor
Nerve blocks can be done in many different ways for many different purposes. If you are contemplating surgery or other medical procedures talk to your doctor and find out if nerve blocks can be helpful for what you are planning.
If you have chronic pain in your neck or low back ask your doctor if it is coming from your facet joints. Find out if an RFA nerve block is the correct treatment for you.