The Pros and Cons Of Radiofrequency Treatment For Chronic Back Pain

Radiofrequency neurotomy, also called radiofrequency ablation or lesioning, is a procedure that intentionally injures nerves to prevent pain signals from being sent to and processed by the brain. It is a minimally invasive surgical procedure reserved for those with chronic pain who have not found relief from more conservative treatment methods.

Radiofrequency treatments can be used on patients with pain from a degenerative disc, facet joint or sacroiliac (SI) joint. Guided by fluoroscopy, an electrode is inserted into the body and placed on the targeted nerve. Once positioned properly, the electrode is heated to create a lesion on the nerve. A more recent, advanced form of the procedure includes a cooling phase; this increases the area of the electrode’s impact and may be useful in certain locations of the body.

This treatment is not a permanent solution; over time, nerves heal and pain returns. It is important to remember that radiofrequency is a treatment that addresses the symptom of pain, not the initial cause thereof. Review the following pros and cons before deciding whether to receive this procedure.

Pros

For people who cannot perform day-to-day activities or work due to pain, a procedure like radiofrequency neurotomy can be tremendously positive. If effective, the procedure may allow people to return to work and perform basic daily activities like walking without excessive pain.

Results from radiofrequency treatment can last up to a year or two, which may make it more appealing than steroid injections, another common treatment for back and SI joint pain.

Neurotomy is a less invasive procedure than other surgical methods of eliminating joint and disc pain, particularly fusion surgery. Fusion creates a rigid segment between vertebrae or the pelvic bone and sacrum to inhibit painful motion from instability. The procedure comes with a high price tag and a host of risks, including accelerated degeneration of facet joints and spinal discs near the fused joint. Radiofrequency lesioning may provide enough pain relief to avoid more invasive surgery.

Research indicates that this procedure is helpful to some degree for around 70% of those who receive it and that it may decrease reliance on expensive and dangerous pain medications. See http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/studies-published-in-pain-medicine-demonstrate-effectiveness-of-minimally-invasive-cooled-radiofrequency-treatment-for-low-back-pain-194185701.html for a collection of research supporting the use of cooled radiofrequency for discogenic and SI joint pain.

Cons

Radiofrequency lesioning makes pain worse before making it better. The initial week following the procedure can be difficult due to local soreness and swelling. Some patients who have received the treatment report that it can take a month or two to feel any positive effects.

Some patients receiving the treatment never experience relief. Some may even experience more pain if the procedure was done incorrectly and the targeted nerve was incompletely damaged; this would cause it to increase its pain signal output. See http://www.spine-health.com/forum/treatment/pain-management/rf-neurotomy-ablation-has-worked-you-how-long-did-it-take-notice-res to read reviews of the procedure from a number of people who have received it.

It must be remembered that this treatment is not a cure; it just masks the pain. Whether your pain is caused by a degenerated disc, facet joint or SI joint, it is important to continue efforts to resolve the underlying issue. Research alternative medicine to find treatment options you may not be aware of. Take advantage of your pain-free or reduced pain time post-radiofrequency treatment to follow through on exercise therapy, strengthening your core muscles that support joints and spinal discs.

Radiofrequency neurotomy may be a suitable treatment for you if pain is interfering with your quality of life. The focus of any chronic pain treatment plan, however, should be to address the cause of pain and not just mask the symptom.

FAQ – Lower Back Pain

What causes lower back pain?

There are may theories out there. Some people claim that back pain is caused by psychological pain stored up in the body. This theory suggests that you have a lot of repressed emotions and this is manifested as actual physical pain in the body. While I do not dispute that this can be a factor, I have seen far more physical reasons for lower back pain. In my experience, your posture is the definitive cause of back pain.

For example, if you sit most of the day, don’t work out very much and hardly ever stretch, your chances of getting back pain are extremely high. And since, that is most of us, it should not surprising that most of us have back pain. There are some main postural distortions that occur over time, but the more important point is that they do occur. I can see them as clear as night and day on people and you will need to identify your own postural issues if you really want to address lower back pain so you can get rid of it.

Take a look at your hips from the side, preferably by using a mirror. Imagine there is a bucket of water resting on your pelvis. Now, your hips are the bucket. Looking at your hips, can you see if the bucket would be spilling water out the front or in the back? If so, you have a postural shift that can definitely cause significant back pain. By the way, it can also cause upper back pain, neck pain and shoulder issues. Once your hips are out of balance, the rest of the body has to compensate for it.

Take a few moments to analyze how you look. How do you stand? How do you sit? Become more aware of how you hold your body throughout the day. You will be surprised how often it is in unnatural and unhealthy positions. So, to become aware of this is the first step. Then, you can begin to counteract the damage.

How can I get out of Lower Back Pain?

Okay, so now you need to actually do something to get out pain, right? Well, depending on how you stand and sit, you will need different exercises. We want to stretch the muscles in your body that have gotten inflexible and add strength to the areas that are overly weak. And everyone is slightly different. It all comes back to your posture, because that is a tell tale sign of what muscles are too weak or too tight.

As a general rule, you will probably want to strengthen your core no matter what. This includes doing exercises for your lower back, abdominals and psoas. Most people have incredibly tight and/or weak psoas muscles and this usually directly affects the lower back. So, start working on making your core stronger with good stabilization exercises.

Then, get to work on the muscle imbalances that are causing your postural problems. As I said, you want to strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the tight muscles. Generally speaking, if you have kyphotic posture you want to stretch the muscles in the back of your legs and strengthen the front. If you have lordotic posture, you will want to strengthen the muscles in the back of the legs and stretch the muscles in the front. Of course, it is a little more complicated than that, but that is the general rule.

How can I protect myself from a back Injury?

In addition to getting out of pain, you will also want to protect yourself from future pain and injury. You don’t want to be a shut in your whole life, afraid of sports and exercise. And the great news is that you definitely do not have to live that way. By fixing your postural distortions and muscle imbalances, you can get back to life in a healthy and natural way. As you learn to move properly, you will be protecting your back and learning to move in a very functional way. And that means dramatically reducing the risk of future injury and pain.

Bulged Disk – The Unspoken Truth!

Is the news of a bulged disk really significant? According to a study conducted years ago by Maureen C. Jensen and Jeffrey S. Ross and published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, not at all. Many other studies have been repeated over the last two decades and the results have been duplicated and validated. The shocking news was that half the adults, according to this study, had a bulge in their disk. The fascinating and surprising fact is that none of the individuals experienced any back pain. None whatsoever.

Yet most doctors will send you for some sort of imaging or screening, to provide to you proof of a bulged or herniated disk, when you come to see them for lower back pain. As has been shown in the study, this condition apparently exists in most of us anyway. There might not be any relationship between a bulged or herniated disk and pain in your lower back, at least based on scientific facts. If we go to scientists such as physicians seeking advice and treatment, we should at least receive scientific based evidence of the suspected reason for our pains.

If an X-ray shows a broken bone, you would suspect you have broken your bone. If you have severe pain in your leg after experiencing a fall, chances are high you broke a bone. To validate this hypothesis you take an image of your bone. However, this is the exact finding of this study, rules out the direct correlation between lower back pain and bulging disks.

Here are the concluding remarks of the study.

“On MRI examination of the lumbar spine, many people without back pain have disk bulges or protrusions but not extrusions. Given the high prevalence of these findings and of back pain, the discovery by MRI of bulges or protrusions in people with low back pain may frequently be coincidental.”

Coincidental? That is not the term my doctor used when we observed my MRI results. Which raises the greater question, why send me to have an MRI in the first place. His reasoning at the time was to verify that it was not a bulged disk. Perhaps my physician was not updated by the latest research studies. The unfortunate truth is that most doctors are not.

MRI and CAT scans are still called for, even though they have been ruled out as unnecessary. Ultimately the results of your condition will be the same whether you had imaging and discovered a bulged disk or just went about your business knowing that you have a fifty percent chance of having a bulged disk anyway, pain or not.

How’s your back?

Back Pain and Joint Pain Relief Through Sleeping on a Novaform Mattress

As we get older, it doesn’t take a lot to put a back out, just a little twist a little wrong move and you could on your back for 2 weeks. Some chronic back problems or joint pains, and the doctor prescribes a period of bed rest, but your old mattress doesn’t seem comfortable anymore, it doesn’t matter what position you’re in all you feel is pain. Getting rest and relief from pain is as good as a mile away. Well it could be time to consider getting a new mattress.

Novaform Memory Foam Mattress

When NASA was looking for something to give a better cushioning effect for the astronauts during lift off, they invented memory foam, it was released to the public in the 1980’s and since then has been used in the bedding industry. Possibly the most outstanding feature about memory foam is its ability to conform to the body, giving relief to back pain and joint pain. When memory foam first hit the market it was expensive and not affordable to most people. The good news is that with advances in technology it has now become affordable to for most people.

How does a Memory Foam Mattress Help You?

Memory foam is heat sensitive foam, as you body warms up the surrounding form, your body will start to sink in, and it will naturally conform to your body giving the support and at the same time give the relief from pressure points. This will give more comfort and result in a better rest which will help your body repair itself faster. It’s important when you buy a memory foam mattress that you get one with a high foam density getting one with a foam density of 5-6 lbs/cubic foot will give you a mattress that’s durable and will last for years. Lighter density foam doesn’t have the durability and some have complained that only after 10 months that their mattresses lost the ability to bounce back.

How Many Types of Novaform Mattresses are There?

There are several different types of Novaform mattresses, though the most recent model is the Novaform Pure Comfort mattresses, which can be found in a number of different sizes, King, Queen, Twin, and Normal sizes. These mattresses are twelve inches thick, consisting of a base 9″ layer of base foam that is topped with a 3″ layer of premium high quality memory foam. The mattress has a cotton-polyester stretch knit cover. You can expect to pay anywhere between $550 – $800

Memory Foam Mattress Toppers are a Good Option

For those who cannot afford the cost of a brand new mattress, or those who have a mattress that is still in good condition and not ready for replacement, buying a memory foam mattress topper is a good option. These are positioned on top of your current mattress. The mattress pads are designed to give you the benefit of a memory foam mattress at a fraction of the cost, giving a much better sleep than you’ll otherwise have if you purchased a typical latex mattress topper. Many people buy a latex mattress because of the hypo-allergic and anti-bacterial qualities. However, a Novaform mattress will offer you these same advantages, while at the same time ensuring a good night’s sleep.

Added Advantages

Novaform memory foam mattresses are hypoallergenic that means it contains fewer allergens. For people who have problems with dust mite allergies, this is good news. Memory foam is made from non organic matter (dust mites can’t eat the mattress), as well as having fewer hollow spaces, means fewer numbers of dust mites to live in.

3 Ways to Stay Current on News Without Losing Your Mind

If you are like me, logging onto Facebook or reading the news can be an emotional upheaval. Depending on what the news is, it can even become an anxiety trigger. At it’s worse; it can alter my energy and change the course of my day because of how it affects me.

I am happy to be a sensitive person who feels things deeply. I think this is a good experience of life and I would never change it. However, for those of you who are open and sensitive like me, you know how sometimes the truth of something can strike you at such a deep chord, there is no other appropriate response but grief and tears.

Staying abreast of current events is important. It is valuable to know what is going on in the world and to get involved and let your voice be heard on topics that are important to you. However, it is also imperative to keep your own wellbeing and health in the forefront of your attention.

Here are 3 things I do to help me stay grounded and vibrating at a high level (even while staying current on what is happening in our world.)

Set a timer

It is easy with social media and cell phones in our pockets to be constantly bombarded with news. We must decide on how much input is optimal for our health and wellbeing on a daily basis. Checking our phones every 30min is not going to change the world or what is happening in it – but it will change you.

For me, during the week, my maximum news/social media saturation is about 45 min. I usually check in with the world in the morning for around 30min, and then some days I check in again in the late afternoon for 10-15min.

I am also a firm believer in fasting. News and social media fasting, that is. It is important to go an entire day, or even an entire weekend without logging into social media or reading news on the computer. All of us have people and experiences in our lives that are more important than our screens (news and social media). I recommend looking at how you spend your time and making sure that the time you spend with each experience is in alignment with how important that experience or person is to you in your life. For example, if I am acting unconsciously, I can easily spend more time on Facebook than I do with my husband. Because my husband is vastly more important to me than Facebook, I find more joy, love, and connection when I live consciously and prioritize appropriately.

Each of us has a natural wisdom, and when we are constantly putting things in, we leave no time for that wisdom to come out. Furthermore, when we read things that create stress for us, our bodies are filled with the stress hormone cortisol.

Christopher Bergland says, “Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.”

I witness daily how difficult it is for my clients to use their phone and computers with intention. I understand that for some (many) people self-control around how frequently they ‘log on’ is a challenge. However, when most people allow how it is affecting their health to really sink in, it becomes obvious that it has to monitored by your self-control.

Choose the time of day that you engage

Choosing the time of day that you engage in reading news and social media is really important. It is unwise to stress yourself out right before you go to work, have dinner with your family, climb into bed, or engage in a creative process. Knowing that you might see or read something that will create an emotional response in you, you have to choose the best time to expose yourself to that input.

I like to engage with news and social media in the morning before I exercise. Nothing helps me manage my stress better than exercise and nature. If I am emotionally triggered by news in my feed and then I go for a run outdoors, I can come back and begin my workday in a grounded and positive energy. If I read the news up to the time that I begin my work day, I will find it difficult to hold the space, think clearly, or be creative.

If I ‘log-on’ in the afternoon, I will try to buffer that by sitting on my porch appreciating nature for 5 min, or having a single-person dance party. This way I make sure that when I go into the last part of my day, which for me is dinner and time with my family, I can be fully present with them and experience the depth and width of my capacity for joy.

End on a positive note

I enjoy having a go-to list of websites, songs, videos, stories and poems that raise my vibration and leave me feeling upbeat, positive and hopeful about our world. It is easy to be saturated by the negative – but there is an equal (if not more) amount of positive. People are helping each other, they are showing kindness to each other, they are giving of themselves, and they are caring for animals and nature. Allow yourself to witness it and feel uplifted by it. Take care to gain perspective and see the entire picture so that your focus (thoughts and feelings) doesn’t become pinpointed on the negative in our world. Taking a few minutes to end on a positive note is like having an after dinner mint. It leaves your brain with a sweet and refreshed palate.