Pulsed Radiofrequency Treatment: New Hope For Pain Patients?
Living with pain is something that people simply do not fully appreciate until they are actually in pain and then they really know just how debilitating it can be.
Pain has no ‘off button’ which means that it does not switch off when you are at work, making concentration difficult. It can be there from when you wake up in the morning and is still there when you are trying to sleep, but still it doesn’t go away, making sleep difficult and there is effectively no relief from pain. This is simply intolerable for some patients.
Conservative Treatments For Pain
Traditional or conservative treatments for pain often focus on medication and sometimes, if appropriate, physiotherapy. Other treatments such as heat or electrical stimulation may be undertaken, even surgery may be considered.
However, treating painful conditions with strong medication is not a preferred option for many patients. Patients may experience side effects from the use of medication and usually, to conquer severe pain, the doses have to be quite high, thereby increasing the risk of side effects.
These side effects may not be life threatening, but they can cause problems such as nausea, constipation or other unpleasant symptoms. Although these do not sound significant on their own, when combined with pain, they combine to seriously inhibit someone’s quality of life.
Medication Free Options
So patients are always keen to explore treatments that are non invasive and which do not rely on medication.
Options available include heat treatments, or TENS which is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or PENS which is percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or even radiofrequency treatment.
Traditional Radiofrequency Treatment
Traditional radiofrequency ‘heats up’ the nerves so that they effectively stop feeling pain. Damage is done to the ends of the nerves, which renders them incapable of feeling pain, at least for a while.
However, many patients do not like the thought of damage being done to the nerve ends and they worry that this will simply lead to problems in the future.
This is where pulsed radiofrequency really has the edge over the traditional methods.
Specific Benefits of Pulsed Radiofrequency
Radiofrequncy that is pulsed is a minimally invasive procedure, where a patient, is given a local anaesthetic and then the nerve or nerves that are causing pain are blasted with very short bursts of radiofrquency waves.
But unlike the traditional radiofrequency technique, there is no lasting damage to the nerves, so they are fine afterwards, they are simply ‘retuned’ in the sense that they no longer feel pain.
This makes pulsed radiofrequency a really positive outcome, because patients only undergo a very low risk procedure. It is also effective, drug free, lasts for a couple of months or so and there is no damage to the nerves, so all in all it is a very effective technique.
Patients value in particular the chance for them to control their pain without surgery and without medication, and the unpleasant side effects that medication can have!