Understanding Radiofrequency Ablation

What is Radiofrequency Ablation? 

Radiofrequency ablation (neurotomy) is a procedure to help relieve pain that originates from the facet joints or your  neck or back. Each bone in your spine is connected by two facet joints on each side. The facet joints allow your spine to bend and rotate. Sometimes these joints can deteriorate and become inflamed. This inflammation can irritate the facet nerves and surrounding tissues, causing pain. During the radiofrequency procedure, the facet nerves are destroyed using extreme heat. This breaks up the pain signal from these nerves.

Two diagnostic work-up injections are required prior to performing the radiofrequency to help determine if this procedure is appropriate for you. These injections will  need to be completed on separate days. 

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What can I expect during the procedure?

The procedure is done by a physician under fluroscopy (x-ray). You will be receiving sedation through an IV prior to the procedure. You will be brought into the procedure room and lay on your stomach on a special table. Your skin will be cleaned at the injection sites and a local anesthetic will be used to numb your skin. The fluoroscope (x-ray machine) will be used to help visualize the needle as it is guided to the appropriate site for the procedure. An anesthetic is injected by the nerve to numb it. At this time, heat will be applied to the nerve to break up the nerve signal.


What should I expect after the procedure?

We recommend that you take it easy for the remainder of the day. You may resume normal activities the next day. You may experience tenderness or aggravated symptoms for several days after the procedure. You may rest and use ice packs to help with this pain. Some patients may require pain medication for 2 to 3 days after the procedure to help with post-procedure pain. Your provider will discuss this with you. It may take up to 4-6 weeks to notice benefit from the procedure. The effects of this procedure are usually not permanent. You may get pain relief for 1 to 2 years, or less. If you have received at least 6 months of pain relief, the procedure can be repeated if appropriate.

Employee Spotlight: Jessica

Meet Jessica, the Spinal Cord Stimulator Coordinator for Twin Cities Pain Clinic & Surgery Center. Jessica was nominated for her close attention to detail. Jessica's work days are devoted to helping our patients through the process of Spinal Cord Stimulator trial and implant. Thank you for providing kind and compassionate care, Jessica!

What is your role at TCPC? 

I am the Spinal Cord Stimulator Coordinator for TCPC. Our patients who decide to pursue a SCS/Pump trial, have three requirements they must complete. My job is to help them with the process along the way. Currently after these are achieved and we have approval from insurance, I then schedule them to get started. 

How long have you been with TCPC?

As of August 1, 2018 I have been with this company for 1 year. 

What are some of your hobbies?

I am a mother to a 7 year old boy (Kaine) who keeps me very busy. You can usually find me on the sidelines of one of his 6 sporting events (Yes, I am his biggest fan) or his cub scouts outings. If we have some free time I am laying by the pool, at the cabin, spending time with my family and friends or CHEERING ON MY VIKINGS ... "SKOL"

What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC?

I came to TCPC after working in pediatrics for 10 years and I am really glad I did. This company acknowledges their employees and is always striving for them to succeed. I can honestly say I love being a part of this growing company. 




Twin Cities Pain Clinic has been named a Top Workplace by the Star Tribune. This great award wouldn't be possible without our amazing staff members. Your hard work does not go unnoticed!

Whiplash: What Other’s May Not Understand


“You felt fine after the accident. Why are you experiencing pain now?”

“My friend recovered from whiplash within a few days. I’m sure it’s all in your head.”


Despite what others may think, whiplash symptoms can indeed be mysterious and evolve over week or even months. Some symptoms may fade away as new ones develop. While most people fully recover from whiplash within 3 months, others may experience symptoms that last much longer and become chronic.


Whiplash occurs when the neck and head are suddenly forced backward and then forward, putting the cervical spine through extremely quick motions and extreme stresses. Most cases of whiplash are caused by car accidents where the person has been rear-ended. Other potential whiplash causes, while comparatively rare, can be from high-impact activities where extreme acceleration-deceleration forces might be applied to the cervical spine.


Anyone who experiences physical symptoms after a motor vehicle accident is advised to see a doctor for a checkup. However, any of the following signs require immediate medical attention:

  • Severe Pain
  • Neck Instability
  • Pain, tingling, numbness, and/or weakness that radiates into the shoulder, arm, and/or hand
  • Problems with balance or coordination
  • Mental health issues, such as increased irritability, depression, trouble sleeping, reduced concentration, or other drastic changes in behavior


Seeking treatment early for whiplash is recommended. Delaying treatment can reduce its effectiveness in some cases. If whiplash symptoms are mild to moderate, some self-care options typically include:

  • Rest: While it is good to stay active if possible, it also makes sense to take things easier for the first few days. If a certain motion or activity exacerbates the neck pain, then avoid or limit that movement until the neck has more time to heal.
  • Ice / Heat: In the first couple days following a whiplash injury, applying ice can reduce pain and swelling in the neck. During this time window, the ice or cold packs can temporarily close small blood vessels and prevent a worsening of the swelling. Then ice or heat can be applied alternately a few days after the injury has occurred.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Some OTC pain relievers include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Aleve, and Motrin. Acetaminophen can block pain receptors, and NSAIDs reduce inflammation.

Employee Spotlight: Shannon

Meet Shannon, a certified medical biller and coder for Twin Cities Surgery Center and our Employee Spotlight this week! Shannon was nominated  by her supervisor for always going above and beyond to make sure claims are billed properly. Thank you for all of your hard work, Shannon!

What is your role at TCPC?  

I work in the Surgery Center billing office as a Medical Biller & Coder.


How long have you been with TCPC & TCSC? 

I have been with Twin Cities Surgery Center for 1 year now.


What are some of your hobbies? 

I love the lake!! We spend a lot of time up north with family and friends going boating, tubing, fishing or swimming. I love to fish a lot, especially ice fishing. I enjoy traveling and going on road trips. I love VIKINGS football!! We have season tickets and go to all the games. Otherwise, we have 5 children that keep us pretty busy with school and sports. 


What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC & TCSC?

I love the staff here and how positive everyone is!!



Twin Cities Pain Clinic has been named a Top Workplace by the Star Tribune. This great award wouldn't be possible without our amazing staff members. Your hard work does not go unnoticed!



TCPC Welcomes Two New Providers

Please join Twin Cities Pain Clinic in welcoming our newest providers!



Britta Carlson, PA-C 

Britta Carlson will be joining the Woodbury clinic as a Certified Physician Assistant. Britta offers her patients wellness and preventative medicine and management of chronic pain. In her spare time she enjoys spending quality time with her husband and two little boys, hiking, running and reading. 


Daniel Nguyen, PA-C

Daniel Nguyen will be joining the Burnsville clinic as a Certified Physician Assistant. Daniel offers his patients a multidisciplinary approach and has a strong clinic interest in physical medicine and rehabilitation.  In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, enjoying the outdoors and traveling. 

Twin Cities Pain Clinic Welcomes Dr. Travis O’Brien

Please join us in welcoming our newest physician!

Travis O'Brien, MD

"Individuals with chronic pain require a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to achieve the best outcomes. This may include therapies, injections, medications, psychologic interventions, and implantable devices. As a specialist in both Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine, I am trained to provide all of these treatments in an individualized fashion for each patient."

Dr. O'Brien will staff our new Burnsville clinic. Dr. O'Brien is board-certified in Physical Mediine and Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine with a strong clinical interest in spine pain and neuromodulation.

Welcome to the team!

Disorders That Affect the Spinal Cord & Nerves

Disorders That Affect the Spinal Cord & Nerves

The spinal cord is the main pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. It is a long, fragile, tube-like structure that extends downward from the base of the brain. The cord is protected by the back bones of the spine. Any condition that narrows the spinal canal can put your spinal cord and spinal nerves at risk. The lack of space creates pressure, causing irritation and inflammation. Conditions that can narrow your spinal canal include infection, tumors, trauma, herniated discs, arthritis and thickening of ligaments. Here are a few conditions that can affect the spinal cord and nerves. 

Disc Herniation:

A herniated disc refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (discs) between the individual bones that stack up to make your spine. A herniated disc can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Disc herniation is most often the result of a gradual, age-related wear and tear call disc degeneration. As you age, your spinal discs lose some of their water content. That makes them less flexible and more prone to tearing or rupturing with even a minor strain or twist. You can prevent a herniated disc by exercising regularly, maintaining good posture, and maintaining a healthy weight. 


A common symptom of sciatica is pain that starts in the lower back and radiates or travels to the buttock and down the back of the leg - possibly to the foot and toes. Pain levels vary from mild to severe and are described as shooting, burning in sensation, or electric shock - like. The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is made up of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and then combine to form the sciatic nerve. Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed at or near its point of origin. 

Spinal Stenosis:

A condition involving any narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve-root canals, spinal stenosis can result in compression of, or pressure on the spinal nerves and nerve roots. Most people with spinal stenosis experience more pain when walking or standing, and less pain when walking with a shopping cart or sitting down. 




Counting Steps to Joint Health



Counting Steps

to Joint Health

It is a well-known fact that exercising can help ease the pain associated with arthritis. Walking 10,000 steps a day, which is roughly equivalent to walking 5 miles, is now widely recommended by exercise experts as a target number for improving the average person's health. the number was not developed from scientific research and it isn't a magic number that will improve everyone's health. However, there is data to show that those who walk between 5,000 and 10,000 steps a day are 40 percent less likely to develop a metabolic syndrome, which is a condition that can predispose you to diabetes and heart problems. The benefits increase even further if your step count is 10,000 or more per day, as you are then 72 percent less likely to develop this condition. 

Walking in particular has been recognized as one of the best types of exercises for people suffering with joint pain. This begs the question; just how many steps should a person with arthritis take daily in order to obtain the benefits that walking has to offer without causing further damage? According to the Arthritis Foundation and a new study published online in Arthritis Care & Research, 6,000 steps per day is the magic number that has been shown to reduce the risk of "funcional limitations in people with knee osteoarthritis." What does that mean exactly? By walking 6,000 steps a day, a person's quality of life can be improved by making daily activities such as getting out of a chair, walking up stairs or bending down, much easier and less painful to perform.

For someone suffering from joint pain, 6,000 steps may seem like a lot, but it is important to know that any amount of walking is still better than not walking at all. Researchers found that "walking 5,000 steps per day still helped, by not as much." While keeping this in mind, set goals for yourself, walk as much as you feel comfortable and increase your steps slowly each week to reach your personal goals. To keep track of your progress, there are many products and apps taht can be used to calculate activity level, calories burned, quality of sleep and most importantly, the amount of steps you have taken.