Radiofrequency Ablation Specialist

Southern Pain Specialists

Interventional Pain Management located in Birmingham, AL

For chronic sacroiliac and spinal joint pain caused by arthritis or a nerve condition, consider radiofrequency ablation (RFA) at Southern Pain Specialists. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Kenneth Varley, MD, is an experienced pain management specialist offering safe, effective RFA treatments to block your nerves from sending pain signals, so you can get relief. To set up a consultation, use the online booking tool or call the office today.

Radiofrequency Ablation

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a medical procedure that uses an electric current to carefully heat a small segment of your nerve tissue to prevent it from sending pain signals. This can provide a long-lasting solution to nerve pain associated with chronic sacroiliac joint pain and arthritic pain in your spine. In many cases, pain relief lasts 6-12 months, although some people can experience pain relief for years after an RFA treatment.

How does radiofrequency ablation work?

During the RFA procedure, Dr. Kenneth Varley inserts a thin, sterile needle into the affected area. He uses X-ray to guide the needle to the precise location of your pain for an exact, specific treatment. Dr. Varley then inserts a microelectrode through the needle, which may cause a tingling sensation in the area where you’ve been experiencing pain.

Dr. Varley then sends a small electric current through the microelectrode to heat the nerve in the treatment area. As nerve tissue is heated, the heat alters it slightly so it can’t send pain signals to your brain. The procedure is only performed on the affected nerve, so other nerves and tissues in the area remain unaffected. The procedure is considered low risk and has few side effects, such as mild soreness or discomfort at the site for 1-2 days afterward.

Am I a candidate for radiofrequency ablation?

To determine if RFA is the right treatment for your nerve or joint pain, Dr. Varley first examines the injured area and performs a series of tests, such as X-rays, nerve studies, or diagnostic injections called nerve blocks, to determine which nerve is sending pain signals. In some cases, nerve blocks — injectable medication used to block pain signals — are enough to effectively relieve patient pain.

If Dr. Varley determines that a particular nerve is the source of your pain and other treatments, including nerve blocks, have been unsuccessful, he may recommend RFA or another procedure, depending on the severity of your pain and overall health.

What should I expect when getting radiofrequency ablation?

Before getting RFA, Dr. Varley administers an anesthetic solution to the area via an injection, so the only discomfort you may feel is mild tingling during the procedure. Afterward, you can typically go home on the same day to recuperate. Dr. Varley follows up with you shortly after your visit to determine how effective the procedure was and if additional care is warranted.

Learn more about radiofrequency ablation from Southern Pain Specialists by calling the office or scheduling an appointment online now.