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Radiofrequency Ablation Specialist

Pain Care Boise

Pain Medicine located in Boise, ID

If you suffer from chronic pain that’s seldom, if ever, relieved by conservative medical care, radiofrequency ablation could be the solution you need. At Pain Care Boise in downtown Boise, Idaho, William Binegar, MD, and Christopher Vaughan, MD, specialize in radiofrequency ablation. Both provide long-lasting pain relief. For some, the pain goes away for good after this treatment. To learn if radiofrequency ablation can help you, schedule an appointment online today or call the office.

Radiofrequency Ablation Q&A

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) utilizes electric energy to disperse heat or create a lesion on the nerve that it is placed next to.  This will cause denaturization of the protein within the nerve inhibiting the function of the pain nerve.  This will prevent the nerve from sending pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. This will provide more long-term relief than when using steroids. Some patients will never need another procedure and for others the RFA will need to be repeated 1-6 years later.  

What type of pain is radiofrequency ablation done for?

Neck, Midback, and Low Back Pain

Most commonly done on the joints of your spine called the facet joints.  Thus we can help patients with neck, midback, and low back  pain by denervating the medial branch nerves at the cervical, thoracic or lumbar facet levels. 

We can also denervate your sacroiliac joints.  This is done by blocking the sacral lateral branch nerves.

Intracept procedure

RFA of the basivertebral nerve is very new technology for people with low back pain due to vertebrogenic pain.  This pain is due to modic or vertebrogenic degenerative endplate/disc changes noted on your MRI. This is becoming a more commonly recognized cause of low back pain.

The team at Pain Care Boise specializes in an advanced radiofrequency ablation technique that targets the endplates in your spine. Endplates connect the spinal discs to the vertebrae. If the endplate breaks down, it pinches nerves, causing pain. The team uses radiofrequency ablation to stop the pain signals.

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Knee Pain

Knee pain is another common joint problem where we can help by blocking the genicular nerves going to the knee joint.  This is done for people with osteoarthritis, but also commonly done for people post total knee joint replacement or after other knee surgeries. 

Other joints that we can consider denervating are the shoulder, hip and wrist joints.

Is radiofrequency ablation painful?

This procedure typically does not hurt more than any other pain procedure we do, as we numb the nerve prior to doing the lesion.

If you are concerned, we do offer oral sedation to relax you prior to the procedure.  Of course, we numb the skin prior to placing the thin needle to the nerve.  This is done with x-ray or ultrasound guidance to ensure we are in the right place. 

A microelectrode is then placed through the needle.  Prior to doing the lesion, we typically do sensory/motor stimulation to again ensure we have the needle tip correctly placed. Then we place the local anesthetic (numbing medicine) on the nerve prior to doing the lesion. We also bathe the nerve with steroid to help prevent post RFA neuritis pain.  The radiofrequency current is then sent down the electrode to denervate the nerve. 

What can I expect after the radiofrequency ablation?

You will typically see immediate benefit.  However, the final result can take 10-14 days as the denaturization of the protein within the nerve does take some time. 

You may have some mild tenderness post-procedure. Tylenol or ice (only 20 minutes at a time) may help. Some may require repeat RFA 1-6 years later.  The soonest we can do it again is in 6 months.

To learn if you’re a candidate for radiofrequency ablation, book an appointment online today or call Pain Care Boise.