Radiofrequency Ablation for Arthritis: What to Expect

Radiofrequency Ablation for Arthritis: What to Expect

If you have been dealing with arthritis, you may think you’ve exhausted all possible treatment options. But have you considered radiofrequency ablation?

This treatment has been used to minimize pain in the neck and lower back and pain caused by arthritis. It may sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, but in actuality, radiofrequency ablation is real, and it’s effective. 

At The Spine and Pain Center of California, Dr. Navin Mahallavaram — as well as the rest of our staff — is committed to helping patients minimize and heal from pain. Radiofrequency ablation may be the perfect option for your arthritis treatment.  

Radiofrequency ablation 101 

First, you’re probably asking what this treatment even is. Radiofrequency ablation uses an electrical current to heat the nerve endings, causing arthritic pain. This slightly damages the nerves, which allows for the experience of pain to decrease for a period. 

The tissues necessary for the body to function are not harmed, and the treatment can help patients experience less or no pain for several weeks — and even months — afterward. In many cases, multiple treatments over time are effective for long-term pain management. Radiofrequency ablation treatment has been used to treat joint pain (including pain associated with arthritis) since the mid-1970s.

Radiofrequency ablation step-by-step 

If you have already decided to seek out radiofrequency ablation as a treatment for your arthritis pain, it can help to know exactly what to expect during the procedure. First, Dr. Mallavaram will give you a sedative intravenously. You will be awake for the procedure but relaxed and calm. 

Next, he will numb the area to be treated with a local anesthetic and insert a needle into the area. With the help of fluoroscopy (a special kind of X-ray), he will be able to see inside your body and guide the needle into the right place. Then he will place the electrode — which delivers the radiofrequency current — to heat the nerve endings in the affected area. 

After the treatment is over, you will be able to go home once the sedative wears off. You’ll need to avoid driving and operating heavy machinery for at least 24 hours, and you’ll want to rest from strenuous activities for the first few days. Other than this, you’ll be able to enjoy your life normally after your procedure.

Results of radiofrequency ablation for arthritis 

Radiofrequency ablation for arthritis is extremely successful for short- and long-term pain relief. For about 70% of patients, the treatment will work for up to a year or so, after which the nerve endings heal, and another dose will likely be necessary. 

There are very few side effects associated with this procedure, and most people tolerate it very well. Especially if you have tried more conservative treatments for your arthritis in the past and have not seen the results for which you’d hoped, it may be time to give radiofrequency ablation a try. 

Radiofrequency ablation minimizes arthritic pain

Anyone suffering from arthritis knows the pain can be challenging to manage on one’s own, even with the help of physical therapy, prescription medications, and more. That’s why we recommend radiofrequency ablation treatment for many patients dealing with this issue. 

Want to make an appointment today? Call one of our offices in Fremont or Pleasanton, CA, or you can book an appointment online at your convenience. 

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