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Cervical Pain/Headache Treatment - Ablation Therapy

History: late 30's F, sudden headaches June 2001, seen multiple neurologists, with multiple DX  (Migraines, Occip. Neuralgia,Tension Headaches. Have tried just about every medication.  Last 4-5 months pain has spread (for lack of a better word) to lower neck, right shoulder. Head MRI was completed 14 months ago after fall in football endzone (long story). 3 years of occipital nerve blocks - 3-4 months of 100% relief. Nerve blocks are ineffective as of July 2010 at which point I was referred to a pain specialist (anesthesiologist). PT done in August/September 2010, Neck MRI Aug 2010 showed multiple disc bulges, arthritis, and mild disc degeneration (mostly C4 through C6 although some at C2-C3). Had two cervical steroid injections 4 weeks apart - both at C5-C6 first one worked wonders, 2nd one was well, BLAH. Followed up with clinic this week - they want to do the facet joint injections to determine if I am a good candidate for RFA (Radiofrequency Ablation Therapy)

I've read some of the message boards here, but I haven't seen anything really recent, so I thought I would ask if anyone has recently had it and the side effects, will I need to miss work (I've read different opinions on the recovery part). I do office/computer work full-time. most has been covered under FMLA. is the post-procedure pain for this worse than the cervical steroid injections?

Thanks for any thoughts.
4 Responses
Avatar universal
I had the radiofrequency in my neck about 1 year ago for the cervicogenic headaches. They do the facet nerve block injections first diagnostically. If you get greater that 50% relief from them (they are short-lived) then it is a good sign you will get relief with the radiofrequency. I had headache relief for about 6 months. Then, when the headaches did start coming back they were widespread, not almost every day like before. I actually just had the nerve block injections and will be having the radiofrequency done again. I had no problem with the facet nerve block or the radiofrequency first time around. I work the graveyard shift, had the radiofrequency early morning and went to work 11 that night (although I wasnt supposed to because of the anesthesia). No problems at all. I just had the facet injections about 2 weeks ago and I did have a major headache all that day, but that is not uncommon. I will probably be scheduling the radiofrequency within the next week or two. I've heard some people say that have an increase in the pain for a while after the radiofrequency, but I did not. Hope that helps
Avatar universal
Ferret -

Thank you for your post, yes this does help. Last couple days my lower back has been acting up (sciatica & early DGD) so I might give my chiro a buzz to see if I can get in this week. I'm going to AZ the week of 10/31 for vacation. Being away from daily life (i/e work) will probably help. We were going to take the train. but it's a 32 hour ride, and I talked my friend into flying instead. I don't think I could handle a long train ride again.
Avatar universal
Yes back pain and a long train ride would not be good. If you have the radiofrequency done on your back, I would like to know how it worked for you. Like I said, it was pretty good for my neck. I have several herniations and other probs with my back also. I am getting tired of the lidocaine and steroid injections in my back and am considering the radiofrequency for my back also. Just havent done it yet because the neck was a bigger issue.
Avatar universal
The radiofrequency is being done on my neck, c5/c6. today I Went to my chiropractor (who BTW I would trust with my life) showed him my MRI (last saw him in may) and he said he had no problems with working on my neck even though I was under pain management (PM previously said ok to the chiro treatment) I actually went there because my lower back has been giving me fits the last 4-5 days. So he did treatment on 3 regions and I go back Wednesday. He thinks the radiofrequency is too aggressive, and wants 3-4 visits to see what he can do.
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