Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation

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What is Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation?

 

Radiofrequency nerve ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses high frequency radio waves to cause heat damage to the sensory nerves that are causing your plantar heel pain. It is usually performed at a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius. At this temperature the nerve is destroyed and is thus no longer able to transmit pain signals. Radiofrequency nerve ablation is a recognised treatment that has been used in medicine for many years, mostly for chronic back pain and heart disorders.

The Procedure

The procedure is minimally invasive and is performed under local anaesthetic to numb the local area of where the radiofrequency probe is introduced. A nerve stimulator is used to correctly identify the sensory nerves that are the source of your heel pain. Once identified more anaesthetic is administered to numb the sensory nerve that is to be ablated via heat damage. The probe tip produces heat to a very targeted area that minimises damage to other structures around the nerve. The area of damage is approximately the size of small garden pea.

 

After the Procedure

 

As the procedure is minimally invasive, recovery is relatively fast. Following the procedure a light dressing is applied. You can return to weightbearing in regular footwear such as a trainer. It is advised to minimise your activity levels for the first 48 hours after the procedure and to take a short course of basic pain medication to minimise post-op discomfort such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Does it Work?

Radiofrequency nerve ablation is a highly successful procedure for chronic plantar heel pain. The average success rate reported in clinicial studies is 87%.

My Verdict

Radiofrequency nerve ablation is an excellent treatment option for resistant cases of plantar heel pain that have not responded to previous conventional treatments. The main advantages of radiofrequency ablation are that the plantar fascia is left intact, the patient is able to return to full activities the day following the procedure, and the pain relief is long lasting.