SI Joint Pain Radiofrequency ablation

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Radiofrequency Ablation and SI Joint Pain

Most of the time, SI joint pain will respond to medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care, or a combination of these conservative treatments. But when these methods fail to provide necessary relief, your spine health expert may recommend a procedure called radiofrequency ablation (also referred to as radiofrequency neurotomy).

SI Joint Pain Treatments – Radiofrequency Ablation

When SI joint pain doesn’t subside with conventional treatments like medication, chiropractic treatments, or physical therapy, more inventive measures may be considered. One such measure is radiofrequency ablation, which stops the pain signals from traveling from the spine to the brain. This procedure is also known as radiofrequency neurotomy. It’s minimally invasive, and the patient can usually go home the same day it is performed.

Is Radiofrequency Ablation the Right Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Treatment for You?

Most cases of sacroiliac (SI) joint pain respond well to medication, physical therapy, or chiropractic care. When they don’t, more intensive treatments may be indicated, and among them is radiofrequency ablation. This minimally invasive procedure is a means of introducing radiofrequency waves and heat to the affected SI joint area, with the goal of permanently stopping the pain signals that the irritated nerves are sending to the brain. When the signals stop, so does the pain. This procedure is also sometimes referred to as radiofrequency neurotomy.

During the radiofrequency ablation procedure as an SI joint pain treatment, your physician will administer a “nerve block” to the nerves that he or she suspects are responsible for the pain. Once those nerves are isolated, the procedure can begin. You will lie on your stomach and be given a mild sedative to help you relax, and a local anesthetic will be administered. Then, a needle will be inserted into the affected area. Radiofrequency waves will heat the tip of the needle, and a lesion will be created on each nerve that is suspected of causing your pain.

The success rate for this procedure can vary. That’s because your SI joint contains many nerves, and it can be hard to disable all of them. It’s worth noting, though, that anywhere from 30-50% of people who undergo radiofrequency ablation as an SI joint pain treatment experience relief from their lower back pain for at least two years and the remaining 50% still find some relief, although it may not last quite as long. This possible two-year hiatus from the pain has less to do with the procedure not being able to permanently eliminate the pain and more to do with the fact that nerves regenerate over time. In the rarest of cases, patients indicate that radiofrequency ablation has not helped their SI joint pain at all. This may be the time when a spine health expert recommends surgical considerations for resolution of the SI joint pain.

There is no pain associated with radiofrequency ablation in and of itself and the procedure takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half to complete. The worst case scenario is that the procedure will not help your back pain at all. However, this outcome is extremely rare.

At a Glance: Radiofrequency Ablation for SI Joint Pain

  • Radiofrequency ablation as an SI joint pain treatment delivers radiofrequency waves to the source of the pain, telling the nerves to stop sending pain messages to the brain
  • Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure and usually takes from ½ to 1.5 hours to complete.
  • Most people who undergo radiofrequency ablation for SI joint pain relief experience enjoy pain-free living for up to two years.
  • Because nerve tissue regenerates, most people who derive an initial benefit from radiofrequency ablation may have the symptoms return after the nerves have grown back.

Health Tips For SI Joint

  • Problems in the sacroiliac joint can be made worse by improper spinal mechanics, so make sure to exercise regularly and keep your back strong
  • When you’re lifting heavy objects, use your legs, not your back
  • Be careful when you’re walking on ice or other slippery surfaces as hard falls to the tailbone can damage the SI joint

Carry weight evenly to avoid improper spinal alignment that can lead to SI joint

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