A nerve ablation is performed to reduce certain types of chronic pain by preventing pain signals from transmitting to the brain. It is a completely safe procedure in which some of a patient’s nerve tissue is destroyed or removed. This allows pain signals to be interrupted so that pain can be reduced.
Nerve ablations can involve heat, cold, or chemicals. Often times, they’re recommended to patients who are living with chronic lower back and neck pain as well as pain related to joint degeneration from arthritis.
How Nerve Ablations Are Performed
Before performing a nerve ablation, you can expect your doctor to pinpoint the nerve or nerves that are transmitting pain signals to your brain. They will likely perform a test that uses a nerve block and numbs certain nerves. The nerve block test will help your doctor identify which nerves are responsible for your pain.
During a nerve ablation, your doctor will conduct x-rays or other imaging tests to determine where to place a special ablation tool. After administering a local anesthetic, they will place the tool under your skin and gently remove or destroy your nerve tissue. You can expect a bit of discomfort and some tingling or buzzing during this time.
The procedure works by blocking your damaged nerves from sending pain signals to your brain. If your nerve attempts to grow back, you’ll find your pain relief to be temporary and last for about 6 to 9 months.The number of nerves that are being blocked will dictate how long this procedure takes. However, in most cases, it will be completed between 20 minutes and an hour.
Who are Nerve Ablations For?
It’s important to understand that nerve ablations aren’t for everyone. Your doctor may recommend them after other pain management treatments like medications and physical therapy have proven to be ineffective. If a treatment like diagnostic local anesthesia didn’t work for you, you’re probably not a good fit for a nerve ablation.
Are Nerve Ablations Safe?
When performed by a highly skilled and experienced doctor, nerve ablations are safe. Most patients tolerate them well and experience minimal to no complications. Although there is a small risk of bleeding and infection, your doctor can advise you about your certain risk and help you increase your chances of a safe outcome.
Contact NorthStar Pain Management
If you have further questions about nerve ablations or are wondering whether you are a good candidate for this procedure, contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you!