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1508881 tn?1313114901

Update on my RFA and my complications

I just wanted to share my experience with my RFA's so far and the complication I had from it. I had my first set of nerve burns at L3-6 (I have a transitional L/6-S1) last month. It went great. No pain during and hardly any pain after. I had it without steroids due to my bad reaction to them. I had my second set at the same levels last week with steroids because I forgot to tell them to leave it out. This time the procedure itself hurt really badly. I was actually crying on the table which is something I never do. My doctor used an 18 gauge needle instead of a 20 because he said it would burn a larger area and give better results. He thought that may have been the reason for the pain. They had to double me up on the sedation and it still made me cry.

After the procedure I had discomfort but nothing too bad. Over the next few days my hip began to hurt but it didn't concern me that much. Yesterday morning I woke up and could hardly walk. My hip down to my thigh was burning and swollen and I couldn't walk without limping. My skin was sensitive to the touch almost like a sun burn/bruise combo. At this point I was beginning to worry so I called the RN at my PM office. She talked to the doctor who agreed to see me the next morning. My office is up two flights of stairs and I could not walk up and down them anymore so I went home and that's when my thigh went numb and I had a hard time sleeping last night. Not fun.

I just got back from my PM appointment and she said I have Neuritis from the RFA. She told me it was pretty rare for it to happen, it happens in about 1% of all RFA's. She gave me a shot of Toradol, which is a pretty hefty anti inflammatory. It's been about an hour since the shot and while I'm still sore, I can almost walk without a limp now. She did not say how long this will last or if it's permanent. I go back next Friday for a follow up and if I'm not better she will go over my options. I've never had nerve pain before and I can now say that it's horrible! I feel for everyone out there who has constant nerve pain.

Besides the Neuritis, I can say that my back is doing really well. I really think the RFA's are working and if the nerve damage is not permanent than I will be pretty happy with the procedure overall. I just wanted to share my experience with everyone in case someone is considering having RFA and had questions or wanted to hear someone's experience. Don't let what happened to me scare you. Like I said, it's pretty rare and RFA is generally really safe with low risks.

I also bought an elliptical so I can get back into exercising. I used to be a runner and used my treadmil a lot. My doctor said that treadmills are really hard on the back and the elliptical is very low impact. So I'm really excited to use it once my nerve pain calms down. Anyone out there use an elliptical? How do you like it?
13 Responses
547368 tn?1440541785
Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I am sorry that you are experiencing some Neuritis. This can be short term or long term. Your PMP should have the answers for you. However she may not know either....sometimes only time will tell.

I have not used an elliptical. I am just happy to hobble around. :o) I am glad that it will be an option for you.

Again thanks for sharing. I'll look forward to hearing additional updates.

Peace,
~Tuck
1470552 tn?1300605907
Hi, I had RFA 2 weeks ago, I did not have any trouble after but I am having really bad leg pain at night when laying down It wakes me up, it is so bad I cry   i try moving it around but the only thing to help it is to sit up untill it sumcides. As for my back it did not help me.

After reading your story I do not thing I well do it again. I was really scared to begin with.
It took him a year to get me to do it. The only reason I give in was that the pain has gottin so bad I was willing to do anything.I  was so hoping it would take away this darn pain in my lower back, hips and down my legs. I guess off to a spine Dr.. waiting for ins autho.

Thank you for sharing and I sure hope you get better soon. Terri ;o)
1508881 tn?1313114901
Thanks for letting me know how yours went. It can take up to 6 weeks for the RFA to work. So don't give up hope yet. As far as the leg pain, if it's a new pain that happened after the RFA I would call your doctor. The reason I didn't call my doctor right away was because I knew they were going to say that it gets worse before it gets better. But my pain was new and happened after the RFA and it was not my normal pain.

I didn't even hesitate when they brought up RFA because everything else I had tried went to smoothly and I thought it couldn't hurt. I normally never get side effects from things or complications. I guess something just went wrong this time.

Keep me posted on how you feel in the next few weeks.
1470552 tn?1300605907
Hi, That is why I was so scared to let them burn my spine, 1 little error and I could be paralized. I was lucky this time. How do you found out how many Pt.s had something go wrong that yours or my dr. did. Would love to know this info.

Not sure what Iam going to do next, seeing I spine Dr. which would mean Sergury.
I will wait and see.

My Pm Dr. never seen my MRI So Iam going to bring it to him. I can not understand why he would work on my back without a MRI. My GP ordered one.

You also keep me posted how your doing!!
Avatar universal
Hi atonicat,

I had my RFA {6 total, 3 on each side of the Lumbar spine} NEARLY a year ago.  It will be one year next month and it's STILL going strong!!!!  It's taken ALL the pain away from the Lumbar area.  It was a miracle as far as I'm concerned.  WHEN it starts to grow back I WON'T HESITATE to have it done again. REMEMBER it takes anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks for the nerves to die from the burn!!  PLEASE don't try to rush this as it WON'T happen UNTIL the nerves are dead!!  :{   Here's what I found on Neuritis:

Neuritis

Neuritis is an inflammation of the nerve with pain and tenderness that lasts three to six weeks. This can occur in 10 to 15 percent of patients. Neuritis usually goes away by itself. If it doesn’t, the doctor can inject a local anesthetic along with a steroid into the nerve. Pulsed radiofrequency can also be used to help with the pain and inflammation.

I found this under this link:

http://www.eorthopod.com/content/radiofrequency-ablation

Hope this will be helpful to you!!!  As it said you SHOULD be over this in a short period of time!!  I'm SO sorry that you had this rare side-effect.  It must be VERY painful for you!! :{

I HOPE you will keep us updated on how you are feeling!!!

Hashinuttylady - the reason that you won't be paralyzed is because the nerves that are being targeted are the Sensory Nerves and NOT the Motor Nerves.  You DON'T need to worry about that happening.  :)   My Doctor didn't have an MRI.  He had an x-ray and the results from that report is what he worked from.  :)  You REALLY don't need to worry.  I'm SURE that you will be just fine.  PLEASE check ALL angles before surgery as that will USUALLY weaken the area below and above the surgical area.  When I had my ruptured disc removed, the result was MORE back problems that wound up with the SEVERE DDD.  Be SURE that you get a 2nd opinion before you agree to the surgery.  JUST a suggestion as I would HATE to see your back wind up like mine.  :{  REMEMBER what I said above, it takes ANYWHERE from 6 to 8 weeks for the "burn" to "kill" off the nerves.  You STILL have a LONG way to go!!  I'm HOPING that you will STILL obtain the GREAT results that I have from mine.  :)  I WISH you the VERY best!!!

I will be looking for you updates on how you are feeling.............Sherry  
1470552 tn?1300605907
Hi Sherry, Thank You!! I will give it more time before giving up, My Dr. did not tell me it could take that long. I do not want Surgery! So if this is safe I would rather try it again 1st.

Thanks Again, Terri
1508881 tn?1313114901
My problem is, they didn't tell me it could happen. If this lasts six weeks I'm going to be pissed. I can't even tell if my back is hurting anymore because the nerve pain is just so painful. Even norco is not helping the pain. I'm going back on Friday and I am going to ask if there is a medication for nerve pain. If this doesn't go away on it's own there is no way I'm getting a steroid injection. My body does not agree with steroids.
Avatar universal
Atonicat:  I take Gabapentin for Nerve pain.  There are VERY specific medications for nerve pain.  I'm SURE they will be able to help you.

PLEASE keep us updated on your progress. We're VERY concerned about how you are doing.  I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers that this WILL have a GREAT outcome for you!!

Terri:  I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, ALSO!!  It is, without a doubt, the SAFEST procedure that they can do.  Keep in mind that SOMETIMES they DO have to do it a second time before it works as it should.  I REALLY feel that it's just too soon for you to know the reuslts of your RFA yet.  HANG IN THERE!!

For you both:  PLEASE know I'm here for you and will give you ALL the support that I POSSIBLY can!! :)

I'm sending you BOTH {{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}.............Sherry  :}

Avatar universal
Hi. I was just wondering how you are doing? When I read your story I was amazed how similar it is to mine. I would have thought I had written it myself if I didn't know any better. I even cried on the table which is something I would not normally do. It has been almost 3 weeks since my procedure. Exactly one week to the day after my procedure my hip started to hurt. By that night, I couldn't stand it. It was a deep, aching pain and I couldn't walk without limping. I tried to lay on that side and it was terribly painful. Everything so far is on the left side which is the side the procedure was done. After a few days the pain subsided in my hip, but now it was going down my rear and the back of leg especially in the knee area. Sometimes there is pain in the top of my foot. This is still going on and this is the start of week 3. To complicate matters more... all of this happened while we were on vacation in TN. I was doing more walking then normal so I thought maybe that was the problem. I am sure now that it is not. It did not feel like muscle or overuse pain. It feels more like something may be wrong with my sciatic nerve. I go to the doctor next week. I did call and tell them and they said they could get me in sooner, but my ultram seems to be keeping the pain at bay for now.  I would definitely request an appt sooner if the pain was the same as I felt the first night with the hip stuff a week later. Does the neuritis go away on its own? Please let me know what happened to you.

Thanks.
L
Avatar universal
I just had my second side done 3 days ago. This is my second year doing it. I have also had surgery on my L4-5 S1. The 3-4 day after a RFA is the worse because all the numbing medication  is wearing off. What i can say is my saving grace is Lidocaine  patches! I cant amagain going through this with them. I put a fresh one on in the AM & PM. Ive learned in the 4 total RFA I've   had that i spend the first 2 weeks in bed resting. When the 3rd week comes Im able to move about my day. It's  what works for me. When you start to feel alot of pain its nothing more then inflammation .  Thats when you get ice! I know it sounds scary because  its your spine per-say but its not your spine. Its your nerve. You arent going to get nerve  damage from it being burned it will grow back!  You will get inflammation  and thats the pain you feel. So ice it! When you hit your 6 weeks or before ride a bike go walking. That motion will break up that inflammation  and you will feel better! Like i said ive had both sides of my lumbar done twice. Before i went in i could barley  walk from the couch  to my bedroom pain from my hips legs down to my heels. When i came out of my RFA each and every time  I was pain free. Ya i had soreness from the RFA some burning .  I believe  alot of someone's  healing is their mind set. I go in feeling like hell and i look for every piece that feels better and i stay positive. I know I'm  going to hurt bad in a few days, but i tell myself I'm  going to feel even better after those days are done. Ive been going through  this for 15 years. From surgery to RFA . This proceeder  is a gift!
Avatar universal
I just had my second side done 3 days ago. This is my second year doing it. I have also had surgery on my L4-5 S1. The 3-4 day after a RFA is the worse because all the numbing medication  is wearing off. What i can say is my saving grace is Lidocaine  patches! I cant amagain going through this with them. I put a fresh one on in the AM & PM. Ive learned in the 4 total RFA I've   had that i spend the first 2 weeks in bed resting. When the 3rd week comes Im able to move about my day. It's  what works for me. When you start to feel alot of pain its nothing more then inflammation .  Thats when you get ice! I know it sounds scary because  its your spine per-say but its not your spine. Its your nerve. You arent going to get nerve  damage from it being burned it will grow back!  You will get inflammation  and thats the pain you feel. So ice it! When you hit your 6 weeks or before ride a bike go walking. That motion will break up that inflammation  and you will feel better! Like i said ive had both sides of my lumbar done twice. Before i went in i could barley  walk from the couch  to my bedroom pain from my hips legs down to my heels. When i came out of my RFA each and every time  I was pain free. Ya i had soreness from the RFA some burning .  I believe  alot of someone's  healing is their mind set. I go in feeling like hell and i look for every piece that feels better and i stay positive. I know I'm  going to hurt bad in a few days, but i tell myself I'm  going to feel even better after those days are done. Ive been going through  this for 15 years. From surgery to RFA . This proceeder  is a gift!
7721494 tn?1431627964
Amen. It is a gift.
Avatar universal
I'm supposed to get my first one on the 17th of this month Thank you for your input I've had 4 back surgeries and my s-1 is herniated had shots they really don't work hopefully this will cross your fingers
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