Radiofrequency ablation for Upper/Mid Back Pain: Does it help?

Posted by dkapustin @dkapustin, Dec 26, 2018

I started going to Pain Management a few months ago for the chronic pain in my upper/mid back. I have an old compression fracture between T7 and T8 from a hard slip and fall, Osteoporosis, and Osteoarthritis. The doctor has scheduled an radiofrequency ablation tor that area and sounded hopeful that it would help. Has anyone had it done in that region and was it helpful? As an FYI, my Osteoporosis is being treated with Reclast and HRT….for now.

@marilynnovak

Hi, Grandma.
RFA (radio frequency ablation) worked for me, but only for 8 months of "no pain."
You need to be more picky about your health providers.
RFA cost my insurance around $40,000. Thank goodness I have good insurance! BUT, I would not subject myself or my insurance company to the pinching shots again, because I feel that $40,000 for 8 months of pain relief is not a sensible way to spend money,
I had my RFA done at the Rehab. Hospital of Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am now working on the problem with lumbar and neck MRIs, Ask for the discs, and take them to spine surgeons so they can put them on the computer screen and describe what they show to you.
If you do not like the regular "tube" MRI experience, there is a company called Upright MRI at which you sit upright while they take the MRI. It's noisy, but gives clear info so the doctor can see what is going on.

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@marilynnovak
Hello!
Wow! Good thing you have good medical insurance, so do I.
I am VERY picky about who cares for me and I do lots of research before seeing a provider.
Sometimes the research was spot on, and other times not as much.
I have a FANTASTIC neurosurgeon who did 2 surgeries on me after I tried shots, including ablation a couple of times.
The surgeries were a success.
When I had surgery on my cervical spine then my lumbar spine, the doctor did the surgery in the areas that were the worse and was impacting me the most.
I've had xrays, MRIs and a mylogram as well as nerve tests to pinpoint where the issues were and are.
Now, I am having new (I think) issues and just completed 3 MRIs which covered my entire spine.
I see my surgeon in a couple of weeks to go over the results and to discuss what is next.
The neurologist I saw sent me for PT at the clinic's department and I left worse off than before I started.
MRIs do not bother me at all, I've had soooooo many.
I'll stick with my surgeon, for now to see what he suggests.
He is not the kind to suggest unnecessary cutting (which he has provided to me over and over again).
Thank you for reaching out,
Ronnie

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@tesiakylie

I had it done for T4 T5 T6 T7 about 6 months ago. I have a bulging disc. It was a very painful procedure as the surgeon I use doesn't knock you out and afterwards I was in the most horrific pain I have ever been in, in my back. needless to say, it did not work at all. I just had it done again yesterday and he gave me xanex to take 1 hour before and some Norco to take after and the pain for the procedure was still a little painful but I was not in tears for hours after the procedure and I was able to sleep last night. I don't know if this will work this time or not but hoping so. 4 months prior to all of this, I had a nerve block which did nothing other than reduce my pocket book.
Wondering if anyone else has the same issues and found relief?
I do have arthritis in my low back and some hip issues. tear in my left hip as well as calcium deposits on both hips and arthritis on my hips. I was in a major car accident 2.5 years ago that caused the tear as well as my bulging disc. My pain was manageable prior to accident and now my mid/upper back just burns all the time and my hips cause my legs to give out and I fall. I have now had cortisone shots in both hip/legs and I can finally walk again. But I cannot seem to manage my mid/upper back pain no matter what. I take gabapentin which seems to help tremendously and I sleep great, but I can't take it during the day even on lower doses because it knocks me out and I have kids and young grandchildren that I watch and drive around. I'm beginning to feel like there is no hope. I used to love to hike and golf and play with the kids and now I feel like my life is so altered. I'm desperate to try anything that may have helped anyone. thank you!

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Hello and welcome, @tesiakylie. You have been through quite a lot with the multiple procedures and it sounds like you have a family that keeps you busy, so it is easy to see why you would like to find something to improve your pain during the day.

Have you shared this with your doctor and has he/she offered you an alternative option?

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Recently had radiofrequency ablation of L4 and L5. Pain remains severe. Now what? Was wrong nerve area done? Anyone have this same situation? Try again?

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@mjq

Recently had radiofrequency ablation of L4 and L5. Pain remains severe. Now what? Was wrong nerve area done? Anyone have this same situation? Try again?

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Hi @mjq, I moved your post to a discussion that is already talking about radiofrequency ablation. I wanted you to be able to connect with members who have gone through similar situations like @tesiakylie, @grandmar, and @marilynnovak.

Have you discussed it not working with your doctor? How long ago was it done?

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@mjq

Recently had radiofrequency ablation of L4 and L5. Pain remains severe. Now what? Was wrong nerve area done? Anyone have this same situation? Try again?

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@mjq
Hello
Sorry to hear the radiofrequency ablation did not work. I have it done twice (once by 2 different doctors) and it did not work for me.
To be honest, that was my last straw.
When that didn't work, I decided to go with surgery.
BTW…my ablation was C5/6.
Good Luck!
Ronnie (GrandmaR)

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@amandaburnett

Hi @mjq, I moved your post to a discussion that is already talking about radiofrequency ablation. I wanted you to be able to connect with members who have gone through similar situations like @tesiakylie, @grandmar, and @marilynnovak.

Have you discussed it not working with your doctor? How long ago was it done?

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I had the ablation one week ago and as of yet have not had a call from the clinic to ascertain whether or not it worked.

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@grandmar

@mjq
Hello
Sorry to hear the radiofrequency ablation did not work. I have it done twice (once by 2 different doctors) and it did not work for me.
To be honest, that was my last straw.
When that didn't work, I decided to go with surgery.
BTW…my ablation was C5/6.
Good Luck!
Ronnie (GrandmaR)

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Thank you for your comment.

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@mjq

Recently had radiofrequency ablation of L4 and L5. Pain remains severe. Now what? Was wrong nerve area done? Anyone have this same situation? Try again?

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I had an RFA performed on September 9,2021. It was in the lower back L5,S1. It did not help. I still have pain in those area's.

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@martyk

I had an RFA performed on September 9,2021. It was in the lower back L5,S1. It did not help. I still have pain in those area's.

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It depends on the nerves that are treated in those areas, there are many areas that could be targeted. I've been having rhyzotomy's for over 6 years following L5-S1 360 fusion. Not all rhyzotomy's have provided significant relief, the last two were very effective but the dr targeted a different area, the medial nerves, and I had better relief. You also need to eliminate other root causes such as piriformis syndrome caused by the sciatic nerve.

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@mjq

I had the ablation one week ago and as of yet have not had a call from the clinic to ascertain whether or not it worked.

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I had an RFA performed on 9/9/21 in the L5 region for chronic lower back pain. It did not help. I think the pain is worse. The doctor ordered a nerve study and PT.

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@martyk

I had an RFA performed on 9/9/21 in the L5 region for chronic lower back pain. It did not help. I think the pain is worse. The doctor ordered a nerve study and PT.

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Thank you for answering. Sad isn't it that all this medical expertise gets us no where. Hoping for the best for you.

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@mjq

Thank you for answering. Sad isn't it that all this medical expertise gets us no where. Hoping for the best for you.

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Your so right. I can see how people lose faith in our medical professionals. Thank you.

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