Avatar universal

Does Nerve Burning Work?

I was wondering if anyone has had their nerve burnt to relieve pain caused by damaged nerve.  My husband has the following symptoms (sharp pains in arm, numb thumb and two fingers next to thumb) combined with severe hand pain.

He was injured during a massage where the guy put his elbow in his neck and leaned all his body weight on it.  He has had his C5 C6 and C6 C7 discs removed a fused.  He has had 8 spinal blocks.  Nothing has helped.  Our new doctor is talking about burning the nerve.  

Does burning the nerve/nerves work and for how long.  Can it cause any damage.  
38 Responses
547368 tn?1440541785
Hello DesperateWife,

Welcome to the Pain Mangement Forum. OI am glad that you found us but obviously sorry to hear about your husband's injury and subsequent pain.

Are you asking about Radiofrequency ablation (or RFA)? That is a procedure where the nerve endings are destroyed by heat through radiofrequency. If so this procedure is reported to be effective in reducing pain in 70% of the ppl. It is not a permanent solution. The nerves do grow back. It can reduce pain for 6-18 months or more. The amount of relief and length of pain releif often depends on the location and severity of his pain. It is a fairly safe procedure.

Hopefully one of our members that have had the procedure will see this post and respond. I have to first hand experience with the procedure.

Best of luck to your husband. Please let us know how he does. My thoughts are that if it has a chance of reducing his chronic pain and is not horribly invasive it's worth a try. Less pain is a good thing. I'll look forward to your updates.

Take Care,
I had this done abut 4 yrs ago and still feel great other than when I do something really stupid like picking up an 800lb bike by myself.  Other than the stupid stuff i have no pain, so I must be one of the lucky ones that it last longer than expected.  I occasionally get some back pain but it is all muscle pain and not my spine.  hopefully I can go another 4 yrs without having it done again.  Hope this helps
172023 tn?1334672284
I'm probably having this next week.  Will report back.
Avatar universal
I had this done as an experimental procedure many years ago when they were just trying it out.  It absolutely worked for me.  
Is he having this done in the cervical area and did you mean to say where he is fused?  I have not heard of this procedure in that case.  
I am fused at C6-C7.  Cervical surgery/fusion is a hard one.  Pain before is bad, but after surgery you develop a whole new set of problems so I know what your husband must be going through.  
So after a fusion your husband is still having pain and numbness in his fingers and arms?  Has he had a 2nd opinion to look at the surgery he had done?  Often times when you have a fusion you rupture above or below the original surgical site and develop arthritis in that area. He may want to have another surgeon look at his results via a CT scan.  
Is the surgeon who did this surgery sending him for the nerve burning?
That would make me want a 2nd opinion prior to going for this procedure.  
127124 tn?1326735435
A surgeon recommended I have this done due to neck and shoulder injury.   I have opted not to do it.   Make sure your husband has thought this through before going ahead with it.
Avatar universal
I have a lower left back pain (SI joint), Doctor told me to inject it and burn the nerves on it.Doctor told me it is a permanent solution for this . Is it a good solution for my chronic back pain.Please tell me some thig about his. I m really worry about his.
Avatar universal
I have had this done twice. It only lasted five months for me but it did work. There is only minor pain with the procedure and is not invasive at all. After it is done you walk right out and are told to take it easy and use ice on the area. Don't be Leary of the needles.  Hope this helps
Do they put you asleep for this?  I have a L5 bulging disc and some facet hypertrophy and the burn down my leg is so bad. Pain clinic suggested this.
Avatar universal
It didn't work for me, but  my husband had this done in his lumbar spine and had excellent results. The procedure itself wasn't any worse than an epidural steroid injection.
2104568 tn?1333755655
Hi Tuck, I'm having RFA done wed. in the upper part of  my  neck, I was wondering if it was very painful tohave done.

Avatar universal
I am having this done on jan.11,2013, I sure hope it works for my cervical neck left shoulder and back of head pain.
Will let u know!
Avatar universal
I had it done and it lasted about 14 months. I am getting it done again but this time my doc is doing the "new" version of the procedure. It is where he uses a scope and ensures he burns the correct nerves. It is a small incision instead of just a needle but he said it should last 2-3 years since they burn exactly where they need to.
Avatar universal
Hello, I just had this procedure done today. I've had steroids injections and blocks. None have worked. Burning was my last hope. I've had a child, hyst, and plastic surgery. I have never had a procedure as painful as the one I endured today. I had 5 areas that control my right shoulder burned. I cried the entire process. I have been on a heating pad and lortab most of the day. I'm finally able to eat and can stand my dogs cuddling on the bed w/o the movement causing me to cringe. So, I'm hopeful tomorrow will better. I can report the painful burning and tingling I had before the procedure seems to be gone. That will be a huge gain if it last. I've been told nerves grow back and this procedure is not perminate. But it's got to be better than living on pain meds. Good luck. I sincerely hope no one has the pain experienced that I did.
Hopefully it works for you living in pain isn't a lot of living. I'm so tired of suffering. If it works I'd be willing to do anything to help at this point.  I'd love to know how you are now. If you still check this post
Avatar universal
We share the same issues, did this work for you? This is my next option.
5270183 tn?1365788006
I had this procedure done on wed 04-10-2013, I have four bulging disc in my back along with arthrits, i have had  a spinal epidural and injections for the facets, this RAF i had, so far so good i will repost in a couple of weeks to give an update. I have great faith this will help with the agonizing pain, I feel good today not much pain at all. The day of the procedure i only experienced a little numbness in my leg, but other then that nothing else to complain about, like i said today is friday 04-12-2013, SO FAR SO GOOD, I have taken no pain meds today, YEAH, Good Luck!!!!
Avatar universal
How are things now?  I'm having the RFA on L-3,4&5 in a week and getting a little nervous. Would love to hear more updates from ones who've had it done... Would be even better if they're good updates. :)
Avatar universal
Can you walk me through the whole procedure? Everything from the pain and what they did?

P.S. I am still deciding if I want to go through this....scared!!
Avatar universal
hi Skinny 55,  did you have it done in the cervical area?
Avatar universal
I'm considering getting the nerve burn procedure done and I'm particularly interested in your comment because you referenced back of head pain. My neck pain is from degenerated disks and I can withstand that pain, but it's the back of the head pain that I think comes from the neck condition that is just unbearable. Just excrutiating headaches in the middle of the night. Did it help you with that? What do you think overall?
Avatar universal
Has anyone had this done as a result from total knee replacements?  I've had five total knees and am in pain 24/7.  My pain dr. Suggested this.  Anyone out there with knee replacement issues.  Thank you
Avatar universal
I had pain for months and it want go away. So i talk to my pain manager to burn the sciatic nerve down. I had the procedure in June 2014 and i can tell you in the first 6 weeks i had more pain then before and i was scare that i make the wrong.decision. My Doc told me it can take up to 8 weeks before the pain goes away. And then finally after 6 weeks i get the relief that i was waiting for and now i am almost pain free. I know that the nerve gonna grow back again. For some people it takes maybe months and others a year or more, everybody are different. I really can recommend it to everybody that have a pinched sciatic nerve...Go and talk to you pain manager
Wow great for you!  that burn is so bad.my pain doc has suggested this to me. I need to research. Did you have to do two test to see if you could do the burning? Mine said something about that. I'd love to know how you're doing now. And can that do it again of pain comes back?
Avatar universal
My son is in the Army and has problems with 5 discs and the doctor is recommending this for some relief.  I wanted to see after this time if you would recommend this and see how you were doing?  Thanks so much. ukarmymom
7721494 tn?1431627964
It depends. There are different treatments for different ailments. If you son is having pain originating from an osteoarthritis spine (spondylosis), then he should get great relief from nerve ablation.
12770311 tn?1427162859
I've had a nerve burn in my neck to control severe pain and tortoculis on my left side of my shoulder and neck. It was done in 2008 and was very effective for a about 2 years. It wasn't painful or very invasive. However its crap shoot if they get the right nerve. To many Dr.s have godlike complexs and don't always go the extra mile for you when you or your loved ones are in pain.     best wishes and Godspeed to you!!!
Avatar universal
I had a RFA surgery roughly 6 weeks ago.  The procedure has helped as far as my headaches and neck pain.  I am in question of what the symptoms of the nerve growing back are?  I am having a tingling sensation on my hands and inner forearms as well as constant pain that feels like I hit my funny bone in my elbow.  I am assuming that these are symptoms of the nerve growing back but am unsure.  I am pleased with the procedure overall.  Now to move onto stem cell (my own stem cells) injections to help heal the multiple herinations I have in my neck and lower back and hopefully get rid of the pain all together.  I would appreciate any feedback that anyone has.  As far as advice from me, the RFA procedure as stated by my Dr is a roughly 50/50 chance.  It happened to work well for me.  I have noted a decrease in the intensity and frequency of my headaches that I have had non-stop with spikes of brain racking pain for about 4 years now.  The constant headache is gone.  I do get spikes but they are no where near how intense as they were originally.  Again any help on my current issues would be much appreciated.

Thanks :)
7721494 tn?1431627964
When the nerve grows back, the pain returns.

The 'funny bone' feelings you are experiencing are called parasthesias, and come when the nerve is under compression, or the nerve's myelin coating is destroyed in a disease like multiple sclerosis. Perhaps you have nerve root damage from disc disease? Ask your doctor.

In general, nerve ablations last a year or two, and seem to become more effective with repeated procedures.

Some dangers of RFA -- some people develop a kind of sunburn-like rash around the ablation site. This is easily treated with steroid creams.

More serious complications occur when the practitioner misplaces the probe and cuts an artery, or a motor nerve. This can cause internal bleeding that requires immediate attention (the artery), or partial paralysis (motor nerve).

These complications are very rare with an experienced practitioner, so find yourself an interventional pain physician who's been practicing a few years and has completed over 1000 of these procedures for best results.
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