According to the American Chiropractic Association, approximately 31 million people suffer with lower back pain at any given moment. Astoundingly, despite the fact that we have several medical professionals and restorative options accessible for treating chronic back pain, there are still people who must manage neck and back discomfort on a daily basis.
Before looking at radiofrequency back pain treatments and how they work, let’s take a quick glace at what causes common back aches in the first place. This is said by the ACA, “the back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain… arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain.” With it being nearly impossible to avoid at least a slight period of discomfort in the back over the course of your life, it’s important to know what sort of treatments and services are available to provide relief, should you need it.
What are radiofrequency back pain treatments? Using radiofrequency to treat pain, at its most base level, means using electricity thus using heat to treat the afflicted area. As far as a straight forward definition, the Mayo Clinic says that radiofrequency treatments or radiofrequency neurotomy is “a procedure to reduce back and neck pain. It uses heat generated by radio waves to damage specific nerves and temporarily interfere with their ability to transmit pain signals.”
Typically, a healthcare professional will insert needles into the skin, targeting nerves around the discs and facet joints that are causing the pain. Electric currents are then used to melt away or numb the affected area.
Radiofrequency pain treatments’ effectiveness varies from one person to another, but simply knowing how it works makes it sound somewhat intimidating. Are there risks to radiofrequency back pain treatments? Of course; there are risks to nearly every medical procedure. Although the process is intended for temporary pain relief, the Mayo Clinic and other sources cite both short and long-term risks associated with radiofrequency back pain treatments.
• Temporary weakness
• Short-term numbness
• Surface pain on the skin where the procedure was performed
• Permanent numbness
• Untreatable dizziness
• Increased neck or back pain once the treatments effects wear off
The Mayo Clinic offers advice for preparing for a radiofrequency treatment, to minimize the chances of adverse effects and maximize the chances for a successful procedure and positive results.
It is common that your doctor will need to inject you with a numbing liquid, as part of a diagnostic test, to determine which nerves should be treated. The Mayo Clinic advises you to do four things to prepare for your testing and radiofrequency back pain treatment.
1. Alert your doctor to the fact that you are on blood thinners, if this is the case.
2. Arrange for a driver; it isn’t always safe to operate a motor vehicle after the procedure.
3. Don’t alter your eating or drinking pattern before your appointment.
4. Don’t alter you medication schedule before your appointment.
If your nerves are receptive and there are no other illnesses contributing to the pain, aside from nerve, joint or disc damage, the Mayo Clinic projects that temporary relief resulting from radiofrequency back pain treatments can last anywhere from three to six months.
Written By: Updated: June 29,2011