Radiofrequency Ablation Specialist

Hawaii Pain & Spine

Jonathan D. Carlson, MD

Pain Management Physician and Interventional Pain Specialist located on Windward, Oahu

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive treatment that could help if you have chronic pain that doesn’t improve with conservative approaches. If you’re interested in learning more about better ways of managing your chronic pain, Jonathan D. Carlson, MD, of Hawai'i Pain & Spine in the Windward area of Kailua, Hawai'i, can help. Dr. Carlson is a leading expert in chronic pain conditions and highly experienced in using advanced treatments such as radiofrequency ablation. Call the office today or book an appointment online.

Radiofrequency Ablation Q & A

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation is a technology that helps patients with chronic pain conditions. It uses radio waves to create an electrical current that heats your tissues.

Radiofrequency heat targets the nerves, either destroying them or impairing their function enough to interfere with the pain signals they send back to the brain. If your nerves can’t send pain signals to your brain, you won’t feel the full extent of the discomfort caused by chronic pain conditions.

What conditions are radiofrequency ablation used for?

Because it targets the nerves, radiofrequency ablation is particularly appropriate for conditions in which nerves malfunction.

When nerves are the cause of pain or other sensory problems, it’s known as neuropathy. There are many different types and causes of neuropathy. Some are related to pre-existing conditions like diabetes, which causes peripheral diabetic neuropathy, and shingles, which causes post-herpetic neuralgia.

Radiofrequency ablation is also an effective treatment for chronic pain that doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments.

What happens during a radiofrequency ablation session?

Dr. Carlson gives you an intravenous sedative to make sure you’re relaxed and calm. You lie on the treatment table, either on your back or your stomach. He then injects a local anesthetic into your skin to numb the treatment area.

When your skin is numb, Dr. Carlson uses X-ray technology to locate the precise area where he needs to insert the needle. Once the needle is in place, he passes a microelectrode through it, which is a fiber that transmits the radiofrequency waves. 

He checks to see if you feel any tingling, which indicates the needle is in the right place. Finally, Dr. Carlson applies the radiofrequency current to your nerves via the microelectrode.

Afterward, you wait in the recovery area to make sure you recover properly. You can usually go home once the sedative wears off.

How effective is radiofrequency ablation?

Dr. Carlson finds that most patients experience at least some degree of pain relief following radiofrequency ablation, and many of them experience significant improvement in their condition. The effects typically last between six and 12 months, with some patients continuing to benefit from their treatment for years.

If you think radiofrequency ablation could help your chronic pain, call Hawai’i Pain & Spine to see if you’re a suitable candidate or book an appointment online today.