Intractable heel pain is heel pain that has lasted for at least three months. If you have intractable heel pain and it hasn’t responded to some conservative forms of treatment such as orthotics or physical therapy, you may be a candidate for Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation, sometimes called Radiofrequency Thermal Ablation or Radiofrequency Lesioning.
What Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation Can Treat
There are several causes of intractable heel pain, although the most common is plantar fasciitis. This is damage to or inflammation of the connective fibers connecting the heel bone and the toes. This tissue also creates the arch of the foot. Other conditions can cause severe heel pain as well, including nerve entrapment, heel spurs, scar tissue around the heel, calcaneal bursitis, and stress fractures.
Because the full weight of the human body is carried on the heels when you are standing or walking, it is no surprise that any pain in the heel can become debilitating. It is also challenging to treat because most people can’t stay off their feet for any length of time due to work and family needs. Fortunately, Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation can have you “back on your feet” without pain the day after the procedure.
What are the Advantages of Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation?
There are many advantages to using Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation to treat chronic heel pain, including:
- 90% success rate for eliminating or drastically reducing intractable heel pain.
- It is often effective when other treatments have failed.
- Most people’s pain relief lasts for years, and in many, it is permanent.
- Minimally invasive. There is only a tiny opening in the skin where the radiofrequency probe is inserted into the skin of the foot.
- It takes just a few minutes for the entire procedure, which can be done in the office.
- No surgery needed, eliminating long recovery times.
- Leaves the plantar fasciitis intact, so the connection between heel and toes and the integrity of the foot’s arch is maintained.
- Most people return to regular activities the day after the in-office procedure.
Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that is done in the office and usually takes about 20-30 minutes from start to finish. Dr. Emmanuel Fuzaylov is experienced in doing this procedure with minimal or no pain for long-term relief of his patient’s intractable heel pain.
Dr. Fuzaylov will first numb the area with a local anesthetic, after which he will carefully pinpoint the area on the foot where the nerves are signaling your heel pain. He will be guided by x-rays, ultrasound, or MRI imaging to help him locate the correct area for the ablation.
When he has determined the location, he will insert a slender needle into the area, then feed a microelectrode through the needle and into the nerve for about 90 seconds. A specific radio frequency will be transmitted through the electrode, sending just enough heat (90 degrees Celsius or 194 degrees Fahrenheit) to damage the myelin sheath protecting the sensory nerves. This will stop the transmission of pain signals through the nerve. This procedure does not damage any of the motor nerves, so there will be no change in the function of the foot.
After the electrode is removed from the foot, a small bandage will be placed over the insertion point. You may have some minor discomfort, including bruising or slight swelling at the treatment site. This will usually go away over the next few days. Some people continue to feel some heel pain for up to two weeks, but this will subside. Most people can return to normal activities the next day.
Safety of Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation
The long-term result of radiofrequency nerve ablation is the elimination or drastic reduction of heel pain that usually lasts for years. In rare cases, the discomfort may return, and a second round or radiofrequency nerve ablation can be performed. Electromagnetic nerve ablation is safe and effective, affecting only the nerve or nerves that cause the heel pain.
Radiofrequency nerve ablation was developed in the 1960s when it was first used to treat back pain by treating specific spinal nerves. It was later used for a variety of other nerve induction related pain symptoms with great success. There are no lasting side effects to the procedure and very few severe side effects or reactions.
Is Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation an Option for You?
If you’ve been suffering from severe heel pain for more than three months and haven’t responded well to other treatments such as orthotics, physical therapy, or pain medications, ablation might be right for you. With almost no side effects and long-lasting results, it is becoming a preferred treatment for intractable heel pain caused by heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and other heel-related problems.
If you think Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation may help you, contact our office at 718-813-3174 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Emmanuel Fazaylov.