Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Pulsed Radio Frequency Ablation (nerve and facet joint)

Many people hear about Pulsed Radio Frequency Ablation (PRFA) and think that it is using heat to burn the nerve. Yes, this can be done but have heard awful things about the pain worsening! My consultant has NEVER ever talked about that as an option...and I'm glad!
My PRFAs were using very high frequency to ablate the nerve and stun it. This should then allow it to have time to heal, hoping that if the ON pain is gone long enough, the pain may not return!

Ooooo what a surprise this was NOT the case for me!
I had PRFA on its own, then four months later has PRFA with a nerve block at the same time....then four months later had PRFA to the greater occipital nerve AND the C2/C3 facet joint!
None of these lasted long enough! :(

When having the PRFA procedure, you are of course prepped as you would for any surgical operation. You most definitely NEED's fairly hideous. Some of these procedures I can remember most of it, some of them I can't remember anything after the probe being inserted to rest on the nerve.
As with the neurostimulator therapy, after being 'earthed' with a pad on my arm or leg, local anaesthetic was injected into the marked spot on my head, before the probe is brutally forced into this area. After saying that I can feel the TENS type pulsing, I was often sedated more and often this is where I forget everything else. The one procedure I sort of remember, was feeling intense pulsing on the nerve that didn't feel nice, but the sedation made it bearable. I couldn't tell you how long it lasted but I seemed to be in theatre for about 40 minutes.
Afterwards, recovery was pretty painful and on one occasion I was given so many strong painkillers via drip that I felt so dizzy, my blood pressure had dropped dramatically so I was kept in overnight! My consultant came to visit, apparently I was in extreme pain so he's glad I can't remember a thing! I wonder what I said...hope I wasn't too rude!

The weirdest procedure was the PRFA to the nerve and C2/C3 facet joint. I was told they would ablate the nerve first, so that I could talk to them about correct positioning before being heavily sedated, then would be turned to do the facet joint.i assumed they would go into the spine joint through the back!
When I came round in the recovery room I was in super pain! My oxygen levels were low and they tried three different painkilling drugs on me. I was in recovery for an hour and a half!!!! My neck muscle on the right side felt achey but the back if my head felt like I'd been hit by a baseball bat! Utterly awful :(
When I finally got back to my room I felt rough. Eventually when I was helped to get out of bed, I was very dizzy and getting to the toilet was a struggle. I looked in the mirror and I realised....looking at the two puncture wounds on my neck, that's where they went in to do the PFRA on the facet joint. It honestly looked like I'd been bitten by a vampire!!!!!
After a few hours in hospital and when is eventually eaten, I went home with a pounding head.
As always I knew it may take a while to distinguish what is surgical pain and what is ON pain...but this time my head was numb! If I touched the right side it was a dumbed down feeling. This was great! It lasted a few days, until the pain returned :( Since then it has been really up and down. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what makes a low level pain day and what makes a high level pain day.

Right now I've had enough of this!!!
My life is so on hold.
I can't make plans, just in case I can't manage them.
This is no way to continue my life.


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  2. Thanks!
    Glad I can help out.
    I started writing this blog because here in the UK we have fewer and less advanced treatment and surgery options that in the US, so I try not to look at those websites, or it will just depress me. Cheers anyway.