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What Is Radiofrequency Ablation and Can It Really Relieve My Neck Pain?

Pain: it all comes down to the tiny electrical signals generated by nerves and interpreted by your brain. It sounds simple, but this remarkable piece of bioengineering is incredibly complex. Neck pain affects as many as 30% of Americans annually, and half of them will go on to suffer chronic pain issues, all because of a tiny electrical signal.  

Causes of neck pain

There’s usually a physical reason for your neck pain, and treating it can also treat your pain. However, the cause of your pain may sometimes be unknown, since there’s no observable reason for nerve irritation. Other times, pain can be the result of a progressively degenerative condition such as arthritis, where no improvement due to healing can be expected.

When there’s no way to cure the condition causing neck pain, a pain management plan is the next step. This may include lifestyle changes such as losing weight, physical therapy to build support muscles and spread mechanical loads, and drug therapy to control the way you perceive pain signals.

However, drug therapy for chronic pain is often dangerous, particularly when the severity of your pain calls for the use of opioid medications. Over time, you can build up resistance to a drug, requiring increased doses to produce the same level of pain relief. You can also become addicted to many commonly used opioids. It’s no surprise that the search for drug-free pain treatments is accelerating.

Radiofrequency ablation

It’s usually a simple process to identify the nerves responsible for your pain, even when it’s unknown why they are sending pain signals. Based on your symptoms, a nerve probe can be inserted into your neck, and when you report a sensation of tingling or pain, the target treatment area is identified.

To neutralize the pain signals coming from this area, Dr. Teddrick Dunson of Thrive Pain Management frequently recommends radiofrequency ablation as a way to disrupt pain messages to reduce or eliminate the neck pain you’re experiencing.

Radio waves, when absorbed by nerve tissue, create heat in much the same way that a microwave oven heats food. When nerve tissue is warmed sufficiently, it no longer functions, and you no longer feel the pain signals sent from these nerves. Given the complexity of the human nervous system, individual results vary, with some patients reporting modest pain reduction while others see dramatic results.

Pain relief provided by radiofrequency ablation typically lasts about six months to a year. Some patients are fortunate enough to remain pain-free for years. An in-office treatment, radiofrequency ablation requires only local anesthetics to block the sensation of the probes used, and there are few side effects. Twenty-four hours of rest after treatment is recommended, and then you’re ready to go, without the need for previous levels of pain medication.

When chronic neck pain impacts your life, it’s time to contact Thrive Pain Management. Dr. Dunson and his team can work with you to develop an effective pain management plan that includes radiofrequency ablation, if it’s the right technique for you. Find out today by calling the office or using the online booking tool on the website. Pain-free living should be your priority, so schedule your appointment today.  

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