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A radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the sacral lateral branch is a procedure that uses radio waves to destroy nerves that sends pain signals from the sacroiliac joint to the brain. This treatment is recommended for patients who continue to feel pain even after receiving numbing medicine injections to the SI joint.
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. The nurse or doctor will place an IV line on your hand or arm to supply fluids and sedation to your body. Your buttocks and back will be cleansed with an antiseptic soap. Then, your doctor will inject a numbing medication into your skin. Using ultrasound guidance, the doctor will direct needles to the sacroiliac joint. Once the needles are in place, a low level of electrical stimulation will be applied to the needles. The doctor will put a numbing solution to the needles and the RF ablation will start. You may feel some mild pain or heat as the radiofrequency causes the nerves to heat up.
Your back and buttocks will be sore after the procedure which should go away in a week or so. It may take up to 2-6 weeks for you to feel relief from the pain. Pain relief may last for a few months, but the pain returns when the nerves grow back. You may opt to repeat the procedure when this happens.
If you are experiencing chronic sacroiliac joint pain, a sacroiliac joint RF ablation may provide you with longer pain relief compared to numbing medications. Schedule an appointment with our pain management doctor to learn more about sacroiliac joint RF ablation in Torrance.