Block Out the Pain: The Importance of Nerve Blocks and Radiofrequency Ablation

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Paving the Path to Pain Relief: Medial Branch Blocks and Radiofrequency Ablation

It is estimated that nearly 20% of the adult population in the United States struggles with chronic pain. To combat this widespread impact, innovative pain management solutions have proven more crucial than ever. Central to this battle against persistent discomfort are advanced techniques such as medial branch blocks and radiofrequency ablation . Celebrated for their efficacy and minimal invasiveness, these techniques are offering many patients considerable pain relief and hope for a return to normal life. 

Zooming in on Medial Branch Blocks

While the term "nerve block" may sound foreign to some, most people are familiar with an epidural, a common type of nerve block. This type typically involves the injection of corticosteroid into the epidural space of the spine. One specialized type of nerve block, called a medial branch block, focuses on the medial branch nerves connected to the facet joints in the spine. Physicians such as Dr. Matthew Kohler use live fluoroscopic imaging to accurately locate these nerves. Once identified, local anesthetic is injected to silence them in the short-term. Corticosteroids may be injected as well for longer-term relief.

What makes medial branch blocks  unique is their role as a diagnostic tool. These blocks can help confirm whether the facet joint is indeed the pain's source, hence confirming a patient's candidacy for further treatments such as radiofrequency ablation.

Radiofrequency Ablation: A Revolutionary Approach

When medial branch blocks are performed twice and repeatedly reduce a patient's back pain symptoms by at least 50%, radiofrequency nerve ablation (RFA) may then be considered for long-term relief.  RFA generators use heat and voltage to disrupt pain signals being carried to the central nervous system. A needle-like probe placed near the releases radiofrequency waves to the target nerves, creating localized lesions that reduce their ability to transmit pain signals. This precise targeting effectively silences the problem nerves and provides lasting pain relief. Many patients experience between 6 and 12 months of relief from their chronic back pain symptoms with each RFA procedure. 

The Promise of Nerve Blocks and Radiofrequency Ablation

These techniques offer hope, particularly for patients ineligible for surgical procedures or those who have not achieved the desired pain relief from other interventions. Fortunately, nerve blocks and RFA procedures are not limited to the spine; in fact, they can be performed on various nerves throughout the body once similar diagnostics confirm their likelihood of success. They can help tackle a wide range of conditions, including chronic joint pain, radicular pain, sacroiliac pain, post-surgical pain, and myofascial pain.

These approaches' versatility and minimal invasiveness make them appealing options in pain management. Not only do they spare patients from the potential complications of surgery, but they can be repeatedly performed so many patients experience years of enhanced pain relief.

Patients who endure persistent pain and have found little relief from conventional treatments may consider medial branch blocks and radiofrequency ablation as viable options. These advanced techniques could revolutionize their pain management journey, leading to a more comfortable and productive life. If these innovative options pique your interest, consider booking an initial consultation with Dr. Matthew Kohler at Ospina Medical. With expertise in advanced interventional orthopedic techniques, Dr. Kohler is ready to guide you towards a more pain-free life.

Written By: Cherry Rubannelsonkumar

Edited By: Camden Rowe

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.