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Treating Golfer’s Elbow with Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency AblationGolfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis is a degenerative condition of the tendon fibers on the inside of the elbow that anchor which lift the muscles of the wrist and hand. The condition usually causes severe pain on the outside part of the elbow. The pain usually begins slowly and if left untreated, gets worse over time. A key component of pain management services in Brooklyn, radiofrequency ablation is an effective technique to alleviate pain due to medial epicondylitis.

Golfer’s elbow is usually caused by overusing the muscles in the forearm which are involved in rotating the arm, and gripping and flexing the wrist. The condition is not restricted to the people who play golf, but is associated with racquet sports, activities such as bowling and weightlifting, and the professions such as carpentry, plumbing, and meat-cutting. Although it can occur in any age group, it tends to be more common in people over the age of 40. It is equally common in both men and women. Golfer’s elbow is characterized by pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow, stiffness, weakness, and numbness or tingling.

It is crucial to get treatment for golfer’s elbow as early as possible. If left untreated, it can lead to chronic elbow pain, limited range of motion, and a fixed bend in the elbow.

Treatment for Medial Epicondylitis

To diagnose golfer’s elbow, the pain management doctor will evaluate the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. Pain and stiffness may be assessed by applying pressure to the affected area. Other tests may be used to assess the condition of the elbow, wrist and fingers. X-ray or imaging studies such as MRI may also be used to rule out other conditions.

Based on the outcome of the assessment, they will prepare a customized treatment plan, in which radiofrequency ablation would be an option. This minimally invasive procedure is performed under local anesthesia and mild sedation. The radiofrequency waves ablate, or “burn”, the nerve that is causing the pain, eliminating the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

Radiofrequency Ablation – Steps Involved

The patient lies on the procedure table and the skin over the neck, mid-back, or low back is cleaned and prepared for the treatment. After injecting the local anesthetic, a thin hollow needle is directed into the targeted site with the help of a fluoroscope. The needle is monitored on via x-ray guidance to make sure it goes to the desired location. Contrast may be injected to confirm correct needle location. After the needle is in place, the patient is given a numbing medication. Radiofrequency current is passed through the needle to create a small and precise burn, destroying the portion of the nerve that transmits the pain and blocking the pain-producing signal. Each site may take about 90 seconds to “burn”. More than one nerve can be burned at the same time. Pain relief can last from nine months to more than two years.

Advantages of Radiofrequency Ablation

  • Safe and effective
  • FDA approved
  • No surgery
  • Immediate pain relief
  • Little to no recovery time
  • Decreased need for pain medication
  • Improved function
  • Allows quick return to activity
  • Minimal patient downtime; the patient remains awake and aware during the procedure to provide feedback to the physician
  • Minimal discomfort

The ideal candidate for this procedure is a person who has experienced significant pain relief after a diagnostic nerve/pain receptor block injection. Radiofrequency ablation should not be performed on people who have an infection, are pregnant, or have bleeding problems.

In a reliable multispecialty healthcare center in Brooklyn, radiofrequency ablation is combined with other conservative treatment modalities such as heat/ice application, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, rehabilitation programs, chiropractic care, injections, cold compression therapy and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) for optimal results.

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