The goal is to use an electrical impulse applied to a target nerve to deaden it, stopping the pain in its tracks.

Radiofrequency offers patients of Northern California Pain Specialists a cutting-edge solution to pain management. High-tech treatments like pulsed radiofrequency or continuous radiofrequency ablation are forms of neuromodulation. The goal is to use an electrical impulse applied to a target nerve to deaden it, stopping the pain in its tracks. This treatment is not right for everyone, which is why it's important to see a pain management specialist like Dr. Lo.

What exactly is a radiofrequency treatment?

Put simply, it's a procedure that uses radiofrequency waves to create heat. In medicine, radiofrequency is used in many different ways. For pain management, it works to disrupt nerve conduction with heat. The procedure is often referred to as radiofrequency ablation.

How does radiofrequency ablation work?

This therapy uses the power of radio waves to create an electrical charge. That charge, in turn, delivers heat to the targeted nerve tissue. The heat is enough to disturb that nerve's pain messages to the brain. In a sense, it tricks the brain into thinking there is no pain.

The benefits of radiofrequency ablation include:

  • Minimally-invasive outpatient treatment

  • Focused impulses to reduce tissue damage

  • Fast results for the patient

If necessary, Dr. Lo can perform more than one treatment to provide the best chance for pain relief.

What are the different types of radiofrequency ablation?

There are currently two types of radiofrequency ablation:

  • Continuous

  • Pulsed

Both of these techniques work well for patients with chronic pain who have not responded well to more conventional treatment options. As the names suggest, one type delivers a longer charge while the other provides pulsed waves. With continuous radiofrequency ablation, the high temperature is maintained for about 90 seconds. The pulse treatment delivers a high voltage charge with brief intervals between each one. Dr. Lo decides which is the best choice for each patient depending on their medical history and the level and location of the pain.

How is this procedure done?

Dr. Lo performs radiofrequency ablation in an outpatient setting, so patients can expect to go home soon after the treatment unless there are complications. Most patients benefit from a mild sedative and an anesthetic just before the procedure begins.

After numbing the area, Dr. Lo inserts a needle into the affected region of the spine using imaging to guide placement. A microelectrode inserted through the needles provides the current necessary to deaden the nerve. The patient may feel some mild pain and discomfort during the treatment, but many report just a tingling sensation.

Once complete, the staff monitors each patient for a short time to ensure there are no complications or adverse reactions like motor problems, paralysis, severe pain, or muscle weakness.

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