Life of a Professional Patient, Blog#7: Radiofrequency Ablation with RA?

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Radiofrequency ablation has nothing to do with RA. Unless RA pain from the spine is real.

Warning: This is one of those personal posts. It was an unusual week.


  • We drove to Orlando for Roo’s hernia post-op appointment. It’s all good. I wish every doc were so skilled.
  • Tiger saw his Fairy Godmother (hearing aid specialist). I wish everyone were so kind.
  • We stopped at Barb’s for extra hugs on the way home.

Tuesday:Ice pack

  • Katie Beth and I headed out around 7a.m. (a kind of twilight, bewitched hour for those with RA) for the two hour drive to the clinical trial interview. It was a 3½ hour appointment. The first 3 hrs 20 min went well working with various staff. Then we met the doctor. Maybe I can write more about that soon, but we both thought we’d met him a few times before. How do they do that? Anyway, it didn’t matter whether my RA performed (swelled up) on cue since the trial drug is already approved. They require pregnancy tests, but not a CRP or a joint count since they are not measuring how the drug affects my RA. They don’t need a high CRP that they can try to make go down since the drug is already approved for treating RA. This trial will test whether they can safely change something about the administration of a previously approved RA drug. (So, I was accepted.)
  • At 3 p.m., we headed out in different cars after being home for five minutes; Katie Beth to class and the boys and me to an appointment about my lumbar spine. I’d been trying to get seen for a couple weeks because the 26 year-old injury had been behaving badly. It’s a torn disc at L-5. That appointment went extraordinarily well and I hope to write more about that one too. She even examined my back and noted the swelling I thought was too slight to mention.
  • Coaching Bear at driving through the rain, we pointed the car back across the big bridge to bring the boys to some Boy Scout meeting (it wasn’t the usual time or place). “What’s this meeting for?” “We’re helping out those who might be interested in becoming Cub Scouts.” Roo, from the backseat, “I’m interested.” So, we all four went inside. Roo and I sat on the bench designated for 1st graders. While none of my joints were showing off (swelling) that day, many of them were doing their ice pick magic tricks by now. Toes, hips, knees, and fingers managed to stab me with no blood evidence. The perfect crime, right? I managed through an address about proper parent participation since “the Boy Scouts of America are not the Babysitters of America!” However, as soon as it was a fitting moment, I limped to the car (the older boys had a ride home). At home, in such pain, I fell onto my blessed feather bed. A few years ago when I first got Bear and Tiger involved in scouting, I’d ineffectively explained why I could not go camping (my cheeky RA). I’m not trying that again. Somehow I’ll send brownies and excuses, alternately. And eventually, I’ll try to coerce a son or a spouse to take my place on a campout.


Radiofrequency ablation: This was the thing about which I said, “No way do I have time for it this month!”

There is a problem with persistent inflammation in a couple of facet joints in my cervical and thoracic spine. For about ten years, it has caused nerve pain to shoot down my right arm, neck pain, ear pain, and migraine headaches. Last October, radiofrequency ablations (RFA) at 4 points were quite successful. The nerves are kind of “burned” away by the procedure. After a couple of days of pain, I lived with almost complete relief for at least seven months. However, a couple of months ago, the pruned nerves grew back. I had to take more pain medicine and wear a soft collar. So my neck made itself into a priority.

Today, ice, pillows, and pain medicine are my dear companions. And tonight, I’m actually sitting up to type this page. Last year, it was three days before I could do that. From what I hear, these procedures become a bit more successful each time. (I can’t help but liken that to waxing my legs. Maybe the nerves eventually give up the way the follicles do.)

Yes, I’m aware that I’m only treating the symptoms. I’ll need periodic MRI’s to monitor my spine joints in case a more complicated surgery is required. But most of our RA symptoms are like that. Personally, I’m thrilled to have a way to reduce the symptoms, without using more medication. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to fool hands, jaws, shoulders, knees, etc. in the same way? Again, as long as proper monitoring is done so damage is addressed.

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 26th, 2011 at 6:00 am and is filed under Other. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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