Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment
Among our wide array of headache treatments is radiofrequency ablation or RFA. This is a slightly invasive procedure that may not only reduce headache pain, but it may also allow you to reduce your dependence on medication. Your doctor at the Diamond Headache Clinic may recommend this procedure if other treatments have not sufficiently relieved your pain. RFA can help confirm your diagnosis as well as decrease your suffering.
What Is Radiofrequency Ablation for Headache?
RFA is a technique for treating chronic pain that involves the use of specialized needles and heat to inactivate painful nerves in the neck area that cause headache. Radio frequency injections deactivate the nerves, which interrupts pain signals, decreasing the brain’s perception of pain.
Am I a Candidate for RFA?
If medication, physical therapy and other more conservative treatments have not worked for you, and your pain is likely coming from nerves near the C1 – C5 vertebrae, then you may be a candidate for RFA. Before the actual procedure is done, your doctor will perform trial or diagnostic injections; if you respond well to those, then you are a good candidate. However, patients who take blood thinners, have an infection, or suffer from poorly controlled diabetes or heart disease should not undergo this procedure. While an RFA procedure for back pain or headaches is generally safe and well tolerated, there are risks and potential complications, including bleeding, infection, discomfort at the injection site and, very rarely, motor damage. The risks are low, but you should be aware of them.
The radiofrequency ablation procedure for back pain or headaches is performed on an outpatient basis. Your doctor injects a local anesthetic to numb your skin. You may be given IV sedation if you require it, but you will not be “put out” because you must be able to communicate with the doctor during the procedure. A needle is placed through the numbed tissue with the help of fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance. After the correct placement is confirmed, an electrode is introduced into the needle. Before the ablative treatment is done, electrical stimulation is conducted to check that no big muscle groups are being stimulated. During this stage you need to be awake so you can report what you’re feeling to the doctor. If everything is fine, the tissues around the needle are numbed and then heated by electrical current that is passed through the needle. The heat acts to stun or numb the nerves semi-permanently.
Please arrange for a ride home after the procedure. Apply ice packs to relieve muscle soreness at the injection site. Take it easy for a day or so and if you feel up to it, you can return to work the next day. It has been reported that more than three-quarters of those who undergo RFA experience significant pain relief, and the majority of those patients were able to reduce their use of pain medication. Although the effects of radiofrequency ablation typically last from six to nine months, they may last for only three months or for as long as 18 months. When the effect wears off, the procedure can be repeated.
Live With Less Pain
RFA is just one of the therapies Diamond Headache Clinic utilizes to help patients experience life with less pain. Our one-on-one, physician-guided treatments follow numerous paths to help patients find relief from the chronic headaches that interrupt their lives and prevent them from living life to its fullest. Whether you are suffering from migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches or any other type of headache pain, we will work with you to find a solution that best fits your condition.
We focus on treating more than the symptoms of your headaches, providing you with a framework for lifestyle improvement that can relieve your headaches and improve your overall health and wellness. Our specialists work with you to create a long-term wellness plan that addresses the causes of your headaches and helps you live a healthier lifestyle. We do so with a personalized, caring approach that provides patients with peace of mind while they undergo treatment. You don’t have to live with headache pain — contact Diamond Headache Clinic today and find out how we can help you on your way to a more pain-free life.