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Pros and Cons Of Nerve Burning: What You Should Know!

Date: July 4, 2022

Radiofrequency Ablation, sometimes referred to as RFA, is a procedure that may be necessary if you suffer from chronic pain. However, before scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss RFA, weigh the pros and cons of Nerve Burning.

Radiofrequency ablation is a type of surgical technique that involves the burning of nerves. The goal of this procedure is to prevent the transmission of nerve impulses from the body by killing nerve tissue.

RFA, which stands for radiofrequency ablation and is also referred to as nerve ablation, is a technique that blocks the transmission of pain signals to alleviate discomfort in a particular region of the body.
Even though numerous studies have demonstrated that it does not pose any health risks, there is still widespread opposition to the idea.

Nerve burning or RFA technique has several advantages.

Nerve burning can be carried outside a theather as an outpatient procedure

Nerve burning can be done in an outpatient environment with little recovery time; it's less intrusive and can be done without the need for surgical incisions, and it can be done without the need for anesthesia.

As a consequence, the patient has less discomfort, infection, and a shorter stay in the hospital. In addition, the dangers connected with this procedure are quite minimal due to the absence of surgery. You'll want to keep these facts in mind.

  1. Procedure with a low risk of complications

In an outpatient operation, RFA is conducted under local anesthetic alone or in combination with intravenous sedative medications. Most patients may go back to work in as little as one week after undergoing this procedure, which usually only needs two to four appointments.

Nerve burning is a minimally invasive procedure that is both safe and improving in terms of technology.

  1. It is possible to recover from pain in a short period of time.

While other procedures need months of recuperation time, RFA does not, and most patients may return to their daily routines in less time. Additionally, there is no risk of infection since no incisions are performed with this treatment.

Imaging techniques, such as ultrasound scans and fluoroscopy X-rays, are also helpful in reducing the likelihood that any major blood vessels would be damaged.

  1. Achieving Long-Term Pain Relief

For the vast majority of patients, pain alleviation was maintained for up to two years after therapy. One year after receiving nerve burning or RFA, 56% of patients said that their pain was still reduced in six distinct trials. However, chemical sympathectomy produced long-lasting benefits in 50% of individuals.

  1. Avoids Healing Issues Without Scalpel Entry

There are no incisions required with RFA. In addition to reducing postoperative discomfort and the possibility of scarring or other forms of skin irritation at the site where the needle was inserted, this technique also removes pain and stiffness.

For individuals who are apprehensive about needles and incisions, nerve-burning treatment is a great option.

  1. Less postoperative discomfort

People undergoing radiofrequency ablation are less likely to experience considerable discomfort throughout their procedure in comparison to patients undergoing chemical sympathectomy.

This is because radiofrequency ablation therapies only target the ganglion neurons that are accountable for transmitting pain signals through the nerves in a specific place.

With chemical sympathectomy, all neurons in the body are at risk, which results in unwanted nerve damage to the surrounding tissue and organs.

Nerve burning or the RFA technique has several risks.

Understanding the pros and cons of nerve burning is important to avoid side effects

The radiofrequency ablation method has a small but real risk of major side effects, either during or after the surgery. The RFA process or the anesthesia before the treatment may pose these hazards.

  • Risks linked with the RFA technique include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • The injection site is characterized by excessive and abnormal sensitivity to the skin.
  • The injection site is infected with superficial skin infections.
  • Neural damage and/or severe bleeding as a consequence of injury to nearby blood vessels and nerves during the insertion of the needle
  • The nerve's neighboring tissues may be damaged by heat.
  • The anesthesia used to numb the skin causes an allergic response.

The injection site may also become inflamed, resulting in muscle damage and irritation.

  • Risks associated with sedation. When mild to moderate sedation or general anesthesia is necessary, it is not uncommon to utilize it. Some patients may have allergic responses and breathing difficulties as a consequence of the sedative procedure.

Treatment of a facet or sacroiliac joint with radiofrequency ablation necessitates weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the therapy. Before deciding to use radiofrequency ablation, it's important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

What else do you need to know about Nerve Burning or RFA?

The RFA or Nerve Burning therapy is carried out using ultrasound guidance to inject a catheter into the afflicted region. The tissue is then destroyed by the transmission of heat.

As a result, it needs a local anesthetic, which involves numbing your tissues. In both directions, the catheter is less painful for the patient, but the operation itself has no adverse consequences.

In order to alleviate any discomfort, the patients are given painkillers and muscle relaxants intravenously. In order to alleviate their suffering, the doctors provide intravenous doses of analgesics and muscle relaxants.

As a low-risk operation, it may usually be completed as an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to return home the same day. There are exceptions to this rule if general anesthesia is required for any reason, such as a medical emergency.

Damage to your nerves interrupts the pain signals they transmit to your brain. Nerves, however, are more likely to attempt regeneration. However, the benefits are relatively short-lived, lasting anywhere from six to nine months.

The following Symptoms of Nerve Burning Therapy may range from rare to common.

Keep in mind that all surgeries have risks, and RFA is no exception. In the event of a problem during or after the surgery, there might be dire repercussions.

However, this is quite unusual, and we can confidently state that the advantages outweigh the dangers when performed by a qualified surgeon. The following are some disadvantages of Nerve Burning Therapy to keep in mind.

  1. There is a chance of side effects.

Despite the fact that RFA is less likely to cause adverse effects than chemical sympathectomy, it is not without risk.

After radiofrequency ablation, the following adverse effects may occur:

  • Hypersensitivity and/or burning at the injection site
  • Injection site numbness and/or tingling

The treated region may experience sensations similar to a sunburn. The initial few days or weeks of these symptoms may be difficult to handle, but rest, an ice pack applied to the aching spot, and over-the-counter drugs may all help.

In most cases, these symptoms are not life-threatening, although they may be bothersome and continue for many weeks. Higher up the neck, these symptoms may be more prevalent than in the mid-and low-back.

It is possible that these adverse effects are caused by an elevated level of irritation to a nerve that was only partially destroyed and may still have some function.

However, the loss of the medial branch nerves often does not result in any major reduction in motor function in the neck or lower back. A heat lesion is less likely to harm the arms and legs since the lateral branch nerves don't control any muscles or feeling there.

Concerns may arise about the risk of harm to the neck or back if the feeling is lost in the treated nerves. Despite this, there is no scientific proof to back up this fear. There has been no evidence that patients who have had neurotomies are at greater risk of harm than those who have not.

In clinical studies, only 1% to 2% of individuals had these side effects, although it's crucial to remember that they are quite uncommon.

  1. It is not possible to do a nerve-burning procedure for all types of pain.

Back/leg pain, trigger points, and other chronic pain conditions can't always be alleviated by ablation treatment, despite its ability to cure most kinds of neuropathic pain, such as cancer-related, medication-overuse, and diabetic neuropathy.

  1. Some people are unable to drive as a result of persistent nerve damage.

Patients who undergo paralysis as a result of therapy may never be able to drive again due to the lack of feeling. This may be particularly stressful for young people who have family obligations and are already under added strain due to their inability to drive while recovering.

It's critical to inform patients about the possibility of nerve-burning adverse effects before the process starts so that they are fully informed about the potential hazards of this treatment.

  1. The side effects of nerve ablation might be quite disabling.

Despite the fact that most patients do not encounter life-threatening adverse effects as a result of their therapy, a small percentage do.

Nerve burning's drawbacks may be particularly disastrous since RFA is performed in places of the body where patients may have to wait a long time for medical assistance to arrive in an emergency situation. The pros and cons of nerve burning are important to understand to avoid such side effects.

  1. Back, leg, and trigger point pain cannot be prevented.
A man with neck and back pain

RFA cannot successfully treat persistent pain complaints that are neuropathic because of the physical nature of nerves in the back, legs, and trigger points.

As a result, individuals suffering from back or leg pain may want to consider additional treatment options in addition to ablation therapy.

  1. Heat Sink Effect.

Thermal ablation's efficiency is hampered by the well-known heat sink effect. Cold ablation's efficiency may be compromised by the convectional heat created during the burning process, permitting local tumor development during subsequent therapy.

It is less intrusive than Pringle's method to reduce the heat sink effect when treating a tumor that borders a major artery. Patients may be required to have an open laparotomy using this technique.

Conclusion of pros and cons of nerve burning

Neuromodulation, also known as nerve burning, is a surgical procedure that is used to treat a broad variety of illnesses, including cardiac arrhythmias, obesity, and certain types of cancer. This procedure is also known as neuroablation.

However, the FDA has not yet given its approval for use in the vast majority of applications in the United States. Additional research on its efficacy and safety is required before it can be considered a viable alternative to traditional open-heart surgery.

 If your problem isn't as serious as nerve burning, it's vital to get the advice of a medical professional and properly weigh the pros and cons of nerve burning.


What are the long-term consequences of nerve burning?

There have been reports of a brief increase in nerve pain, neuritis, neuroma, regional numbness, infection, adverse response to drugs used during the treatment, and/or a lack of pain alleviation in the literature.

Is it possible for nerve ablation to worsen pain?

Radiation-induced nerve inflammation makes it normal for some individuals to experience some additional pain in the days immediately after radiofrequency ablation.
Never fear; discomfort will subside with time, even if you don't feel any better for a few days after that.

Is nerve burning painful?

A searing, shooting, or sewing sensation is the most common symptom of nerve pain. An electric shock-like sensation has been described.
In addition, patients with neuropathic discomfort are often particularly sensitive to touch or cold, which may produce pain owing to stimuli that would not normally be harmful, such as touching the skin.

Burning nerves may take how long to heal?

Typically, this discomfort is gone within a week to two weeks after the surgery. A full two to three weeks following the treatment, the ablated nerves will have died and stopped transmitting pain signals.

Can you get a nerve ablation more than once?

It is possible for the nerve to regenerate after treatment. When this occurs, it generally occurs six to 12 months following the treatment. It is possible to do another round of radiofrequency ablation if necessary.
Ask your doctor how likely it is that your treatment will be successful and how long your pain relief will stay thereafter.
About Dr. Sean Ormond
Dr. Sean Ormond in black medical uniform and black fog background
Dr. Sean Ormond is dual board-certified in Anesthesiology and Interventional Pain Management. He completed his anesthesia residency at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio where he served as Chief Resident, followed by an interventional pain management fellowship at Rush University in Chicago, IL. Following fellowship, Dr. Ormond moved to Phoenix and has been practicing in the Valley for a few years before deciding to start his own practice.