Radiofrequency Ablation

Would like to hear feedback from someone that has had this procedure.  Thanks.



  • I've had many of them. Having another one next Friday on L4/L5 and L5/S1 bilaterally. 

    They really help me a lot although they're not lasting as long as they used to. The 1st one I got just over a year out of it, the 2nd one I got 9 months, every one since I've gotten 6 months out of it, but the last one only lasted about 2 months. Hoping that was just a fluke. This procedure, along with TESI's,  have allowed me to put off fusion surgery for several years and allow me to function without taking narcotics. 

    Mine are done under sedation at an outpatient surgical facility and is considered outpatient surgery according to my insurance.

  • jimandjrjimandjr Dallas TXPosts: 688

    Had them many times. Works better for me than a steroid injection. I can get 3-4 discs treated at a times on both sides. 

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  • I am also interested in any information on RFA.  I have had 3 previous injections, but they were not actually RFA, just a steroid injections. They did nothing to improve pain. Now I am considering an RFA.  I have been told by some that it is painless, and others have said it is painful.  Does anybody else have experience as to whether it is a painful procedure or not?  

  • Definitely painful. I've never had it done while asleep. The surgeon asks for feedback to know when she/he is close to a nerve and whether you feel sharp pains in your leg. It lasts about 8 months for me.   

    I sometimes think it was unsuccessful but by the time I'm ready for another RFA I realize that it was working.  

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  • BBJ...I'm put to sleep for the procedure, so it's not painful. 

    Once they get the needles in place, they wake me up and put electricity to them to make sure the needles are in the right place. Once they are satisfied with the needle placement, they put me back to sleep to finish the procedure. 

    There is a little extra soreness for a few days after, but not bad at all. I just had one last Friday. On Saturday, I took muscle relaxers twice. I don't take any medications on a regular basis except amitriptyline in the evening to help me sleep.

    Keep in mind, the relief is not immediate. It takes a bit for the nerves to die off. It can take anywhere from a week to several weeks to get the full benefit. 

  • I had my first round of these done six days ago. I was nervous for the procedure, having read varying reportable of the pain of it. But I wanted to try without sedation and figured if it was awful I could just tell them to stop. I did take a Valium beforehand though. Honestly it wasn't too bad. Unpleasant, sure, but very tolerable. They numbed me up before placing the needles, and the L5/S1 nerve stimulator and then burning didn't bother me much. They gave me triple the dose of lidocaine once the proper nerves had been identified. On my SA and SI, now that one was kind of intense. But again, tolerable. 

    Am glad I didn't do sedation. I took muscle relaxers and norco after and definitely had an increase in pain. But no worse than what I've had before. I limped for a few hours after, but the worst part of the pain wasn't a big deal for me and I had mentally prepped for it; mainly transitions from sitting to standing and pressure on the area. I so far haven't experienced any of the 'burning' feeling on my skin.  

    It can take 30-45 days to feel the full effects but I believe I'm starting to already. I can do more than I could before the procedure with less pain. I still have to get three other levels done, and then a nerve block diagnostic on the same levels but other side, and if successful will have RFA's on those six levels too. At this point I'm of the mindset of trusting my docs very much. It's taken me time to find some who have really made the effort to solve the puzzle of my injury. Now I'm like, 'just do it. If you believe it's going to help me, I'll try it. Just tell me what to expect pain wise.'

    Good luck to you!!

  • I am now considering having this done as I find no relief from pain. I have advanced degeneration of the facet joints L3 to S1, however,  I am concerned that if this procedure does work and I then can go back to some sort of normal life, will I be causing myself far greater damage as I would now be hopefully relatively pain free, so therefore I would be able to walk again which would cause the degeneration to accelerate and wear my facet joints out even faster. I would love to hear any thoughts or wisdom in regards to this.

  • Just had my first rhizotomy earlier today.  Painful?  HELL YES.  I was completely unconscious during the procedure but as soon as I woke up in the hospital, it hurt SOOOO terribly so they gave me morphine, then more morphine.  I got home in great discomfort and took two norco, two advil (not all at once) and later 2 tramadol.  Apparently, muscle relaxers were also called into the pharmacy and will be arriving soon.  I will share that this completely surprised me. I had read it hurt, but this was very painful.  Meds are wearing off now as my back is starting to hurt.  Doc told me that she guaranteed that I would leave the hosp in much more pain than I arrived, and that for the next 2 or 3 days, things would be painful.  However, she said that after that, I should slowly begin to feel better and need less meds.  

    I had it done on both sides of my spine, but I cannot remember my numbers right now.

  • I have been reading this thread because these may be in my future.

    lakin1013,  I really feel for you and hope that your pain will settle down soon and that then you will have great pain relief for a very long time.

    Was this your first rhizotomy?  I am also wondering if you had a diagnostic injection previously to check which level was your pain generator.

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