Procedure RFA: Has anyone experienced and/or... - Pain Concern

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Procedure RFA


Has anyone experienced and/or had Radio frequency Ablation (RFA)?

Was it a good outcome?

15 Replies

Hi Rosalia, yes I've had RFA treatment. I had 3 nerves on both sides of my spine done in 2014 and 2015. They were done following lots of steroid injections in difference places for diagnostic purposes as i had been suffering with sciatica down both my legs for around 3 years.

The procedure was pretty simple. Local anaesthetic and the probes placed with the use of live scans. I don't remember it taking that long either. In terms of outcome i couldn't have asked for better. I was instantly out of pain and quickly gained the confidence to stride out when walking again. The info they give you is that you should be pain free for 12-18 months, the time it takes for the nerves to regenetate. I haven't had a recurrence of the pain and it's now 6 years on. If the pain was to reoccur at some point i wouldn't hesitate to have it done again.

Best of luck xx

Thank you so much! Glad to

Hear it helped you 🙏

I need to have surgery low back There is a protruding bone touching another bone instability L 5 S1 they need to fuse it in through my stomach I’m really scared so I’ll try that procedure first thank u again

No problem. My spine issues are in the same area and i had surgery in 1997 (not through my stomach) for root decompressions. I have arthritis in the form of bone spurs a couple of discs that can 'slip out' without warning and a protruding vertebrae. My consultant wanted to avoid surgery in the same place so we tried this route instead. I'm so glad we did it this way. Not that it will definitely stop the need for surgery at a later date but non-invasive treatment has got to be better than a full blown operation.

If they have suggested it as a feasible option i would definitely say try it before surgery xx

Oh dear god!!!! So needed to here that I have all of what your taking about Arthritis bone spurs everywhere thank you so much you’re an angel

Rosalia1 in reply to Rosalia1

I will keep you posted if that’s OK

So you had that surgery way back when they removed the bone Spurs and u were fine for a long time but then you did RFA?

More or less. The initial surgery was due to 2 root canals calcifying on the inside - think of sucking a polo mint but in reverse lol. Plus a herniated disc. The surgery had to be done as i had lost 75% of the use of my left leg within a week of the pain starting. That was when my osteoarthritis was discovered and after the surgery found that my body responds badly to the stress (on the body) of an operation and throws in what they call traumatic arthritis too. The bone spurs have grown over time due to other ops and injuries. That op was 100% successful, full use of leg back and no sciatica.

I've had minor bouts in between that op and it starting up again in earnest in 2010 but physio and diazepam would settle them.

Since having the RFA no sciatica at all. A couple of spasm incidents taken care of by my gp but thats all.

I had a bone density scan a few weeks ago due to a low impact fracture in my knee and that has shown a lot more spurs than the last mri scan in 2013 - still to be discussed in full with the gp. Xx

I, like Rosalia1, have been wondering if I'd been right opting for RFA in lumbar spine (due to osteo-arthritis etc causing excruciating pain, having to furniture-walk round the house and sudden stabbing pain inside right upper buttock causing me to yelp, (presume that is sciatica). My present lifestyle is severely affected by inability to walk more than 10 metres etc and moving about bent over).However, the above is despite taking: 2x500g paracetamol, 2x30mg dihydrcodeine and 1x400mg ibuprofen three or four times a day. it is still getting worse.

I was put on the waiting list for RFA in Nov 2020 but now the Pain Management Dept is closed due to Covid19 and each time I've rung I get the same answer: "You are still on the waiting list but we have no ability to do these procedures until our doctors have been released from other work due to Covid19".

In the meantime, my Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon's advice to go for an open operation to sort out the "degenerative spondylolisthesis L3/4 with severe central spinal canal stenosis at L3/4 with bilateral claudicant buttock pain..." is, to me, a last resort! I would much prefer to try the RFA first . (I'm a recently retired medical secretary and worked for him and also in many other specialties over the years.)

I am glad you replied to Rosalia1 about your experience of it, and it has given me more incentive to just be patient and wait for my turn whenever it may be! If you could give me any more information about your pain relief before you had RFA, I would be grateful as I'm getting nowhere with my GPs. (I am assuming we are all talking as NHS UK patients here? I can't possibly afford to go private anyway.

Hi Abellemed. So sorry you are going through this pain, it really is debilitating. I tried lots of different meds for the pain prior to the RFA's. What worked best for me was a combination of naproxen, cocodamol 30/500's and Gabapentin 3 x 300mg, 3x a day. It didn't take the pain away but made it more bearable.

Yes it was done through the NHS, i couldn't have afforded private either. I'm really sorry you are facing delays due to covid. I'm in that situation too but for a half knee replacement. Lets hope the nhs can get back to normal service soon.

Having gone through the recovery process from spinal surgery and having RFA, i would choose RFA too.

I hope thats helpful to you xx

Thank you so much for replying! I did try co-codamol but it gave me constipation (which I've never had before), so will stick to dihydrocodeine (which I know is addictive but had no probs stopping it after my medial nerve injections as the pain went for a few weeks). I was put on gabapentin at night by GP but it didn't do anything as once I get into bed the pain goes, also I couldn't then drop off to sleep. (I find two scotches. 1/2 and 1/2 with water, before bedtime always gets me to sleep, but alcohol was prohibited by the gabapentin!)Anyway, it's good to know that if I am patient I will eventually get some relief for a while with RFA, and thanks to your comments I feel I'm doing the right thing by not going straight for surgery.

Once again, thank you for your insight and the best of luck with your knee op!

Oh dear god!!!! So needed to here that I have all of what your taking about Arthritis bone spurs everywhere thank you so much you’re an angel

I will keep you posted if that’s OK

Of course thats ok. Any other questions feel free to ask me too xx

I did in 2010, it was for removing a non benign cyst, I had to attend scans to follow up, and attend cancer department for results, until scans showed clear.RFA treatment was fine, it just felt like microwave heat, not unpleasant and far better than surgery.

I had it. Worked a bit for a few weeks.

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