Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency Ablation Procedures for the Cervical and Lumbar Spine

Offered in East Orange and Newark, NJ

Also known as rhizotomy, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that is a viable treatment option for patients who’ve experienced successful diagnostic nerve or pain receptor block injections. In Newark, New Jersey, Prospect Spine and Pain (PSP) offer cervical and lumbar RFA procedures to qualified patients, which are administered by Dr. Maria Cabodevilla-Conn, a board-certified and fellowship-trained Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician. Learn more about how Dr. Maria Cabodevilla-Conn can determine the root of your pain and whether RFA procedures or our other treatment options are right for you.

Please note: RFA is not intended for those who are pregnant, have bleeding problems, or have an infection.

What Conditions Does Radiofrequency Ablation Treat?

This treatment utilizes radiofrequency waves to burn, or ablate, the nerve fibers responsible for creating pain from arthritic joints. At Prospect Spine and Pain, it is most frequently used to treat patients with chronic cervical and lumbar spine pain or conditions such as the following:

  • Spondylosis
  • Facet arthritis
  • Sacroiliitis
  • Traumatic injuries and prior spine injuries
  • And more…

To determine a patient’s candidacy for an RFA procedure, Dr. Maria Cabodevilla-Conn first identifies the source of the pain, relying on medical imaging, specialized examination techniques, and anesthetic blocks to form an accurate diagnosis. She will also eliminate other potential causes for the patient’s symptoms to ensure that an RFA procedure is the right pain management modality for their unique case.

How Does Radiofrequency Ablation Work?

By diminishing or ceasing the transmission of nerve fibers that create pain emanating from joints, RFA has the potential to provide long-lasting relief for qualified candidates. By targeting and destroying the nerve fibers that send pain signals to the brain, these signals are then disrupted, providing pain relief without the need for surgery. The maximal effect occurs usually at 6 weeks after the procedure. Other benefits of this procedure include:

  • Enhanced function
  • Less dependence on pain medication
  • Little to no recovery time
  • Faster return to work and activities

What Should I Expect During my RFA Procedure?

First, the injection site’s skin is sterilized and numbed with a local anesthetic. Under fluoroscopic guidance, Dr. Maria Cabodevilla-Conn then carries out the RFA procedure with these steps:

  1. An anesthetic numbing medication is injected at the skin and deeper tissues to improve the patient’s comfort.
  2. Utilizing a real-time x ray, a hollow, thin needle is accurately placed onto the affected area.
  3. Accurate placement is tested checking motor and sensory nerves to make sure only the appropriate nerve fibers are targeted.
  4. Anesthetic is then placed to reduce pain associated with the burning aspect of the procedure.
  5. A radiofrequency current is then delivered through the needle.
  6. The current creates a lesion (a precise, small burn) to eliminate the nerve fibers responsible for transmitting pain signals from the region affected to the brain.

The entire procedure can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, with results typically lasting for nine to 24 months or even longer in some cases. In the weeks after the procedure, patients may experience discomfort from its residual effects, but pain relief usually begins within 10 days. Immediately following, patients are observed for a brief period. If IV sedation is used the patient cannot drive themselves home. RFA procedures can be repeated if Dr. Maria Cabodevilla-Conn deems it necessary to do so, as some patients’ nerve fibers re-grow at the burn site in the six months to one year after the initial procedure.

Schedule a Consultation for Lumbar or Cervical Radiofrequency Ablation

To learn more about radiofrequency ablation procedures or our other minimally invasive procedures for pain, contact the team at Prospect Spine and Pain (PSP) today. We’ll be happy to schedule a consultation with Dr. Maria Cabodevilla-Conn, during which she will diagnose your pain and design a customized treatment plan, which may include RFA.