radiman, on 06 December 2018 - 10:02 AM, said:
Thanks for the input guys. If this does work, I'm looking forward to being able to play golf two days or more in a row again!
My insurance requires that they do this test twice before they'll cover the actual procedure. So, three trips in total. I am not a fan of needles going into my spine.
Any long term side effects I need to worry about?
The insurance requirements are ridiculous and in my case they never changed, not even after multiple prior successful procedures. The only good news is that the two primary injections do help to ensure that the culprit nerves are accurately identified prior to the RFA increasing the odds of an effective treatment. They also will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect during the actual RFA. Another benefit of sorts is I got at least a few days pain relief from the "test" procedures but still hated to have to wait. And, while I don't have a real problem with needles, I don't particularly care for the extra opportunities for something to go wrong or to develop an infection. That never happened and I never had a single side effect or complication but it certainly still goes through ones mind.
If they haven't already I'm sure they'll go over all of this with you but this has been my experience:
The procedure itself is relatively quick - in fact, the prep probably takes longer than the RFA does. From the time you enter for prep to leaving for recovery is about 20 -30 minutes tops. The procedure itself isn't something that I can say I ever actually looked forward to but it's also relatively painless. In fact, I think the greatest amount of discomfort is the initial injection of the anesthesia which is kind of like what you would get at the dentist and that's a guy that I DO have a problem with. Kind of a bee sting and a little burning but it's over with before you know it.
You'll be lying face down looking through a hole in what could pass for a high dollar massage table. Make sure that you get as comfortable as possible since you obviously can't be moving around after they get started. I also highly recommend thoroughly scratching your nose because if you don't I can guarantee you that sucker will start to itch the second they begin!
After the anesthesia takes effect all you'll feel is some pressure in the areas that the doc is inserting the RFA probes. Again, not loads of fun I guess but it's not painful. During the actual burning of the nerves there were a couple of times that I did get a sensation that the area was getting pretty hot but that might have just been my imagination too. Most of my lower back treatments required four burns on each side which as I understand it is more than "normal" and initially the doc even recommended that I break it up into two sessions. However, I decided against that and wanted to get it over with so my level of discomfort was probably a little greater than some but it still was no big deal.
I still think most of what I would describe as discomfort is actually more a matter of anxiety than actual hurt. If you mind's right it's a breeze.
Afterwards, you'll likely spend 20 - 30 minutes in recovery as they want to check your pain levels and make sure that your vitals have stabilized before releasing you. My blood pressure tended to get pretty high during the process and they always made me wait until it was back to normal before they let me go. They also will likely require that you have someone to drive you home although after my first few visits the doc waived that requirement for me. Since you can't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before you'll be starving and I always stopped on the way home to get something to eat. Then I usually just take it easy for a couple of hours and apply some ice to the area as it can swell some and get a little sore but I found this to be very minor.
Heck, most times I was out playing golf the next day but it's probably best to err a little more on the side of caution until you're comfortable with the whole deal. Be sure to keep the area clean and dry and you won't be able to shower until the next day so make sure you do that right before you leave for your procedure.
All in all I found RFA to be life changing and borderline miraculous. And the prolonged absence of the pain not only gives you a big piece of your life back but it will also enable you to take advantage of other opportunities to get some exercise - maybe try some yoga, stretching and strength building to improve your overall health as well as well as that of your back. That was something that I missed almost as much as golf and really appreciated being able get myself back in a little bit better shape.
So if you mean are there any negative long term side effects, I would say, "zero" - at least for me anyways. In fact, after a few days you won't even be able to see where the needles went in.
And as I mentioned I've had seven of these things and if your experience is anything like mine I think you'll be a happy guy.