Fall/Winter 2015-2016
Nonsurgical Relief For Cervical And Lumbar Pain

An electrode is used to cauterize the medial branch nerves and block pain signals.
At Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, our goal is to provide relief for patients while avoiding surgery when possible. One of the effective nonsurgical treatments for cervical and lumbar pain that we offer is radiofrequency ablation.

Albert Bartko, III, MD, of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, was the first physician to offer radiofrequency ablation in the Greensboro area approximately 15 years ago. Since that time, he has performed over 1,000 of these procedures.

Radiofrequency ablation is most commonly performed on spinal facet joints in the neck and low back. These cartilage joints can become painful due to trauma or wear and tear. This minimally invasive procedure reduces pain by disrupting the medial branch nerves in the spine that carry pain signals from these joints.

Albert Bartko, III, MD
Using fluoroscopic guidance, an insulated needle with an electrode is inserted next to the nerve supplying the painful joint. The electrode is then used to heat and cauterize the nerves and block the pain. This safe and simple outpatient procedure is a good treatment option for patients who are not candidates for surgical intervention.

"Radiofrequency ablation typically provides more long-term pain relief than steroid injections or nerve blocks for the patient who is a good candidate," said Dr. Bartko.

Pain relief from radiofrequency ablation can vary, often lasting from six months to a year, and can be easily repeated if it wears off. For some patients the relief can last even longer.

This treatment has made a dramatic difference in the lives of patients like Keith Faircloth. When Keith came to Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, he was suffering from arthritic facet pain causing chronic low back pain. The pain he was experiencing made it increasingly more difficult for him to engage in everyday activities.

"People were amazed at the results," said Keith. "It was a life-changing procedure."

Keith was hardly able to stand at his first visit with Dr. Bartko, yet he was back at work the next day after undergoing the radiofrequency ablation procedure.

To learn more about radiofrequency ablation, or to schedule a patient appointment, call 336-272-4578.
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