Should I Be Nervous About Having A Nerve Root Block Using Pulsed Radiofrequency Treatment?

Should I Be Nervous About Having A Nerve Root Block Using Pulsed Radiofrequency Treatment?


If you are at all nervous about having a nerve root block using pulsed radiofrequency treatment, then you should rest assured, there is absolutely no need to be nervous about this procedure.


Some patients can feel anxious because the terms used are somewhat scary, after all a ‘nerve root block’ in itself can sound a little frightening and ‘pulsed radiofrequency’ does sound quite technologically advanced.


A Nerve Root Block


A nerve root block is simply a way of stopping the nerve or nerves in question sending signals to the brain that pain is being experienced. It is not about cutting the nerves or even damaging them, they will simply be transformed to their state before the pain was felt. So they think that there is no pain to report and as a result, stop telling the brain that there is pain there. However, the pulsed radiofrequency does not cause any long term or even short term pain to the nerves.


Pulsed Radiofrequency


Pulsed radiofrequency does indeed sound quite ‘high tech’ but it is a really simple procedure. The nerve endings are heated only slightly, so that they are in no way damaged and there is no significant pain felt when the procedure is being undertaken.


The radiofrequency is also minimally invasive, because it is not surgery, it is simply the use of a needle to administer the radiofrequency, although X ray guidance may also be used and a needle will also be used to inject a local anaesthetic into the area to be treated. However, when compared to surgery, this really is a procedure with very few risks attached. Surgery is usually perfectly safe, but pulsed radiofrequency as a nerve root block is much safer!


Pulsed radiofrequency for a nerve root block will usually take less than 30 minutes. Occasionally it may take slightly longer, simply to ascertain that the needle is indeed going to be directly targeting the nerve to which it needs to deliver the radiofrequency. But as a rule, it should take less than 30 minutes.


After The Procedure


Patients are not usually required to stay in overnight after the procedure, so they can return home on the same day as long as they do not over exert themselves for a day or two.


After the nerves have been re-trained into not feeling pain, patients usually find a significant level of pain reduction can be achieved. Although it is not a permanent solution, it can last for many months and it is also a procedure that can be repeated so that quality of life can be enhanced for a long time.




Although no one ‘likes’ a procedure such as a nerve root block, there really is no reason to be afraid of it. Your pain consultant will talk you through the procedure, but if you are especially scared of needles, or you find that the thought of the procedure is making you nervous, then talk to your pain consultant who will talk through any specific fears that you may have. But the best way to think about the pulsed radiofrequency is as a painless gateway to a pain free life.




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