Miss Claudine Grafton - Radiofrequency treatment for back pain

Claudine Grafton, 29, from Rainham in Essex works for an investment banking firm in Fleet Street London.

"It worked straight away,
I could forget I ever
had it done"
Claudine Grafton, Rainham

Claudine started to suffer from lower back pain a few years ago but put up with it for a while. Claudine explains more: “I am a keen horse rider and had a riding accident a few years ago. Up to that point I had not suffered with back pain so I think that whatever weakness I may have had there was made worse by the accident. After that point the pain would flare up and run down my legs. I can only describe it as a squashing dull ache.

“It would come and go and in the meantime I stayed active with horse riding and the gym two times a week. Then one day I caught a cold and couldn’t stop coughing. The coughing must have put a strain on my back somehow because I was laid up in bed for a week. Being bed bound was a wake up call and I knew I needed to get my back sorted out.”

Claudine saw her GP who sent her for X-rays but they did not reveal anything. Claudine continues: “It was frustrating because I knew that there was something wrong. In the end I opted for private medical treatment and used my private medical insurance from work to pay for it.”

Claudine went on to have a private MRI scan which revealed damage to three of her spinal discs. “This was no surprise to me. Although it isn’t nice to hear that you have damage in your back I just felt relieved that finally an answer had been found and that I would now get treated for it.”

Claudine went on to have pain injections into her spine. The first set lasted her a year before the pain returned. She then had another set of injections but this was not as successful as the first. “I knew straight away that they had not worked. I had been warned of this and told my consultant at the follow up appointment.”

Claudine spoke to her consultant spinal surgeon at Spire Hartswood Hospital, Mr Alagappan Sivaraman who recommended radiofrequency pain treatment.

Claudine came into Spire Hartswood Hospital on a day case basis and received her treatment under sedation with an epidural injection instead of a general anaesthetic. Claudine continues: “Mr Sivaraman explained that the radiofrequency burned the nerve endings and that would stop me feeling the pain of my discs rubbing. It sounds drastic but they do re-generate.  As with pain injections, the length of time that it is effective can vary. I was really happy to go ahead with it. It worked straight away, the only pain I had been for one day where the incision holes felt like mild bee stings, after that I could forget I had ever had it done.”

Claudine has been receiving physiotherapy at Spire Hartswood Hospital to strengthen her back and to ensure the best possible outcome from the treatment. Claudine’s physiotherapist Sharon Powell adds: “Claudine underwent a thorough assessment in physiotherapy and has begun a treatment program consisting primarily of core stability exercises combined with detailed postural education. In just a few sessions she is already seeing the benefits.” Claudine adds: “The exercises have been excellent. They can be done at work whilst I am at my desk and make such a difference to how my back feels.”

The surgeon's view - comments from Mr Alagappan Sivaraman

Radiofrequency rhizotomy treatment for spinal degeneration is a well-recognised, minimally invasive procedure to reduce or eliminate pain. It can be used when simple pain injections have not provided sustained pain relief. The treatment involves passing radiofrequency through needles, creating highly localised heat to destroy the nerve supply to the lower spinal (facet) joints. By destroying these nerves, the communication link that signals pain from the spine to the brain can be broken.

There is a safety factor built into the radiofrequency machine to avoid damage to the nerves that would affect the legs.

The treatment usually takes 20-30 minutes and is carried out under deep sedation. Patients can mobilise immediately after the procedure and go home on the same day.

With their pain taken under control, patients like Claudine benefit a great deal from a course of physiotherapy and other forms of adjunctive treatments.

Physiotherapy treatments for back pain at Spire Hartswood

Find out about physiotherapy treatments for back pain at Spire Hartswood, Brentwood, Essex

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Claudine Grafton

Patient Claudine Grafton received radiofrequency pain treatment for lower back pain at Spire Hartswood Hospital.

Mr Alagappan Sivaraman

Mr Alagappan Sivaraman, consultant spinal surgeon, performed radiofrequency pain treatment on Claudine. View Mr Sivaraman's profile.

Share your experiences

Claudine Grafton is willing to talk to other Spire Hartswood patients who are considering radiofrequency treatment for back pain. This can be arranged by calling the Treatment Enquiry Line on 01277 266 761 or if you wish to share your experience of Spire Hartswood Hospital simply email info@spirehartswood.com

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)