At MIC we provide image guided (fluoroscopy and ultrasound) pain management injections to treat inflammatory joint, soft tissue or other chronic pain conditions.
Medial Branch Block and Radiofrequency Ablation
MIC offers radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for patients who have chronic back or neck pain. RFA is a safe injection procedure which causes a tiny burn that interrupts nerve signals to the brain, thus eliminating pain.
Prior to having the RFA procedure, you will have a medial branch block(s) performed as a diagnostic tool. Our radiologist will inject an anesthetic near the small medial nerves connected to a specific facet joint in your spine. If you experience pain relief after the injection, you may be a good candidate for radiofrequency ablation.
During the RFA, our radiologist will use fluoroscopy guidance to insert a special radiofrequency needle and then send a small amount of electrical current through it to make sure it is in the right place. Next, an anesthetic will be injected to freeze the nerve to minimize pain while the procedure takes place. The radiologist then uses radiofrequency waves to heat the tip of the needle and create a burn on the nerve. This small heat lesion will interrupt the nerve’s ability to send pain signals to your brain.
If more than one nerve has to be treated, then each requires a separate injection. Our radiologist will determine whether it is safe to do so at your appointment, or whether you will need to come back.
What to expect
- You will be advised of any preparation instructions by your booking agent before your appointment.
- If you are on any blood thinning medications (e.g. coumadin) you may be advised to stop taking them for a few days before your exam.
- At your appointment, one of our technologists will position you on the exam bed and make sure you are comfortable.
- The radiologist will use local anesthetic to ‘freeze’ the skin near the facet joint. This will sting for a few seconds.
- Using fluoroscopy guidance, the radiologist will insert a needle into your back, alongside the nerves, and it may make you feel slightly uncomfortable.
- Once the needle is in place, the radiologist will carefully pass a small amount of electrical current through the needle to check its position. You may feel some tingling or tapping in the area.
- The radiologist will inject local anesthetic around the nerve to freeze it before the ablation is performed. During the injection you may feel pressure or mild discomfort in the area.
- You should take it easy for a day or so after the procedure.