Radio Frequency Nerve Ablation for Plantar Foot Pain

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Others in the 1950s had noticed the capability of radio waves to heat food, but Percy Spencer decided to investigate the phenomenon when he discovered a melted chocolate bar in his pocket while working near an active radar set. His experiments resulted in the first “microwave” for cooking food, and the use of radio waves has expanded ever since, including in the medical field.

Radio frequency nerve ablation (RFNA) has been used for many years in treating low back, neck, and arthritis joint pain, but podiatrists are now realizing its effectiveness for treating nerve pain in the feet—especially that associated with a number of heel pain complaints like plantar fasciitis or trapped nerves.

How RFNA Works

As the development of the microwave demonstrates, radio waves give off heat. With nerve ablation, radio frequencies produce an electrical current which is used to heat up a small portion of the nerve sheath, thereby disrupting its ability to sense pain and send signals to the brain. Many uncomfortable problems in the heel are sensed by the same nerve, so treating that one spot can reduce pain from a variety of conditions.

The technology involves pinpointing the exact area of the nerve sensing your pain and inserting a small probe as near to the problem area as possible. The line with electric current is fed through the probe to deliver the shot of heat. The device is calibrated to deliver the correct temperature (80 – 90 degrees centigrade) for a specific duration (usually 90 seconds is enough) to disable the nerve function and relieve your pain.

Who Should Consider Nerve Ablation?

As mentioned, radio frequency nerve ablation is often prescribed for the cluster of problems known as plantar fasciitis, but it is used to treat arthritis pain and neuromas as well. If you suffer arch and heel pain, ask us whether this might be an option to relieve your symptoms.

RFNA is minimally invasive and relief can last up to several months from one treatment. You should not consider the therapy if you have bleeding issues or an infection. You will be sedated and given local anesthetics during the procedure to make you more comfortable.

Dr. Robert Parker can determine if you are a candidate for this type of treatment. If so, we’ll give you thorough instructions on preparing for the surgery (including what to do about meds and eating beforehand). You will need someone to drive you home and stay with you for a while afterwards, and will need to care for the small incision and watch for side effects or complications for a few days.

Help for Plantar Foot Pain in Houston

When it comes to the latest technology for treating feet, you want someone who is knowledgeable, proficient, and experienced, and you can count on Dr. Robert Parker to be all three. He pioneered laser treatment for fungal nails in the Houston area many years ago, and continues to stay in the forefront of new treatment technologies for all types of foot problems.

Contact Parker Foot & Ankle when foot pain is getting you down, and we’ll determine what’s causing it and how it can best be treated. You can reach us by phone at (281) 497-2850 or through our online contact form. You can request our book When Your Heels Hurt...You Hurt All Over! at the same time, and we’ll get a copy right out to you with no further obligation.