Car and truck accidents come as a shock to most people. Sometimes the amount and duration of pain that follows is an even greater surprise. Fortunately, a number of cutting-edge treatments are available that maybe help you with accident-related pain. One is radiofrequency ablation.
What Exactly is Radiofrequency Ablation?
It’s a procedure that uses electric current to heat a small amount of nerve tissue. This stops it from transmitting pain signals to your brain. This treatment can provide significant relief if you experience chronic pain in your lower back, joints, neck, or spinal cord. Physicians also refer to this procedure as radiofrequency neurotomy.
A doctor is likely to consider recommending this outpatient treatment when your pain doesn’t respond to medication or physical therapy. While you’re lying on a table, the doctor will use a fluoroscope to make sure the radiofrequency needles used are in the exact position necessary. Medication administered through an IV line keeps you comfortable, along with a numbing medication placed on your skin. You’ll need to stay awake in order to communicate with your doctor during the procedure.
The doctor inserts a thin needle at the site where pain originates, then passes a microelectrode through it. When you confirm that you feel sensation, the physician knows that this is the correct spot to be treated and transmits a radiofrequency current through the electrode, typically for 60 to 90 seconds. The radiofrequency waves create heat, destroying nerve tissue that’s been relaying pain signals to your brain.
Doctors consider radiofrequency ablation a treatment that is both non-surgical and safe. The risk of complications is low. Temporary numbness and discomfort at the targeted site are common side effects. More serious potential risks include:
- Nerve injury
- Numbness that’s long-term
How It Helps After an Accident
Vehicular accidents cause injuries that could be mild or they could be severe and lifechanging. They can affect your neck, back, joints, spinal cord, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. An accident might cause a break in a neck bone, injuries to your vertebrae, herniated discs, or whiplash. In fact, 38 percent of spinal cord injuries were the result of car and truck accidents between 2010 and 2015. Sometimes you don’t notice any symptoms until days later.
The radio waves used in radiofrequency ablation are electromagnetic waves traveling more than 186,000 miles per second, which is the speed of light. When a physician uses them to treat nerve tissue, they can relieve pain that other types of treatment can’t.
The amount of relief from radiofrequency ablation varies according to the location and the exact cause of your pain. For some patients, it helps for up to 12 months.
After this procedure, it could become much easier for you to be active. However, after a period of time, usually between six and 12 months, the nerves regenerate and will requires repeating radiofrequency ablation.
How to Start Getting Relief
The first step to getting your life back after persistent pain from to an accident is getting an evaluation by a physician. Only a doctor can recommend the most appropriate treatment. Pain management specialists are well versed in advanced therapies such as radiofrequency ablation and breakthroughs to treat discomfort.
It’s also important to get advice from an attorney up to date on both the law and on medical issues regarding neck, spinal, and back injuries. The Law Office of Daniel J. O’Neill is able to help you get the care you need if you’ve been injured in an accident.