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Radiofrequency Ablation/Rhizotomy/Neurotomy

Started by LarryE on 07/13/2017 8:00pm

My Mom is 94 y/o. She has some moderate to severe stenosis in the cervical spine and in the facet joints. The pain she has been experiencing the doctors believe is coming from the facet joints. PT has not helped and cortisone injections have achieved partial relief. Ablation has now been offered as her only real option. But she is very hesitant and scared of the procedure ... in spite of it having been explained to her and in spite of the doctors explaining that the actual procedure is not really much more difficult than the injections (this Pain Management specialist is an anesthesiologist and uses Versed to provide mild conscious sedation).

Her biggest hesitation is not the procedure itself, but her fear of the immediate aftereffects. She has read and heard that patients who undergo the Ablation generally experience an increase in pain for the first 3-7 days after the procedure. I've assured her that she will be able to take something like a Tramadol or maybe even something a little stronger for a few days. She is asking how much "increased" pain is involved. I guess she feels that she doesn't want to do something that is going to result in her suffering at her age.

Has anyone been through this procedure ... or know of someone who has? I know it's a difficult question to answer because everyone is different. But can you offer any feedback from any real experiences as to:

1. Whether you had an increase in pain at all?
2. If you did, how severe was it? What pain level (from 1 to 10) did you have before the procedure and what pain level did it increase to immediately after the procedure? Can you describe how you felt during this period? Were you able to function?
3. How long did that increased pain level take to subside?
4. Did you eventually get even partial relief from the procedure?
5. Would you do it again?

Thank you for your help!

Larry

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Hi, Larry--thank you so much about taking the time to post. We think it's wonderful you've come here to help ease your mother's fears, and we hope others share their experiences with you.

While we don't have any personal stories to share, we'd like to pass along this article because it seems so applicable to your mother: ( Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment for Neck, Back and Sacroiliac Pain ).

This article does a great job of outlining the benefits of RF ablation and some realistic expectations about pain levels after the procedure. While, generally, pain may last up to 2 weeks after the procedure, the potential for pain relief is much longer--upwards of 6 months. Talking to your doctor about what to do if pain is unbearable is good course of action--and it may be as simple as picking up an analgesic prescription.

We hope this information helps, and we wish your mother a successful procedure, smooth recovery, and long-lasting pain relief!

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