Can Radiofrequency Ablation Help My Whiplash Injury?

Feb 09, 2023
Can Radiofrequency Ablation Help My Whiplash Injury?
Whiplash is a complex neck injury usually caused by car accidents or contact sport participation. Best described as a syndrome, whiplash involves a variety of damage to bone, muscle, nerve, or tendon tissue resulting in wide-ranging symptoms.

Carefully balanced atop your spine, your head is about the same weight as a bowling ball. When your body experiences a sudden acceleration or deceleration, that weight carries enough centrifugal force to whip your head backward or forward on your neck, resulting in stressful forces beyond the limits the supporting tissue can endure, creating the injury we know as whiplash

Because these injuries involve muscles, nerves, bones, and tendons, there are complex interactions that can make each case unique. Sometimes, rest is all a patient needs to recover, while in other cases problems endure for months. You may even develop chronic neck pain as a result of whiplash. 

If you’re suffering from chronic pain due to a whiplash injury, Dr. Rudy Malayil and his team at Pain Management 360 in Huntington, Hurricane, and Charleston, West Virginia, offer up relief using a treatment called radiofrequency ablation. Sometimes, chronic pain results from dysfunctional nerve tissue that remains affected long after your original injury, or that nerve tissue may report pain signals when there’s no longer a physical reason. 

The challenges of nerve pain

Sensory nerves report touch and tissue interaction from the location of a stimulus to the brain. When someone pinches your arm, for instance, sensory nerves deliver the signal that your brain interprets as a sharp pain sensation. 

Results are less predictable when the nerve itself experiences damage. After a whiplash injury, nerve tissue might be compressed or irritated, and it could report pain or other sensations anywhere down range of this event. That’s one reason whiplash causes effects like pain, numbness, or tingling in your shoulders, arms, and hands. 

The signals from nerves sometimes seem to be locked into pain-reporting mode, delivering pain signals even after your original injury heals. This can be a difficult condition to diagnose and treat. Any case of chronic pain involving your nerves requires a way to alter pain reporting signals. 

How radiofrequency ablation works

Radiofrequency energy generates heat that precisely and selectively destroys targeted nerve tissue. Typically, your target nerve is first identified using a cervical nerve block injection to confirm the origin of your pain. 

You receive an anesthetic and sedative, and you’re conscious to help with the implantation of two tiny electrodes next to the target nerve tissue. These electrodes deliver radiofrequency energy for about 90 seconds to destroy the nerve tissue reporting pain to your brain. 

The process is minimally invasive, so there’s little scarring and low risk for infection. After a short time in recovery, you can return home, though you should arrange for someone to drive you. Resting for 24 hours is the only recovery step needed. 

What to expect after your procedure

Radiofrequency ablation usually requires several days to take effect, and your pain may be worse for a day or two. This is normal, as is minor bruising and swelling. Full pain-relieving effects may take up to a month to develop, and it’s typical for an ablation procedure to last six months or more. Individual results vary widely, though most patients experience significant pain relief. 

Find out more through a consultation at Pain Management 360. Call or click to request an appointment at our location nearest you. There’s a drug-free answer to your whiplash pain. Book your session today.