Radiofrequency Ablation for Back Pain

Treatments & Procedures

Radiofrequency ablation of the spinal facet joints is a minimally invasive method that uses radio waves to stop signals coming from the medial branch nerves of the facet joints in the spine. When a facet joint in the spine is damaged, pain signals are sent from the injured joints along the medial branch nerves to the spinal cord and then on to the brain. Radiofrequency ablation of these nerves stops signal transduction of pain signals to the spinal cord and brain, and in turn, eliminates the sensation of pain.

Radiofrequency ablation of the spinal facet joints offers patients effective results for back pain with less pain, less bleeding, and a shorter recovery period than traditional procedures. This procedure is performed for medical and cosmetic purposes under local or general anesthesia. Radiofrequency ablation is usually performed in an hour or less.

Benefits of Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency treatment offers benefits over other treatment methods. These potential benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Speed of Procedure
  • Short recovery time
  • Minimal Discomfort
  • Little-to-No Scarring or Bruising

Risks of Radiofrequency Ablation

While radiofrequency ablation is considered a safe procedure, there are certain risks associated with any type of surgical treatment. Some of the risks of this procedure may include:


  • Numbness
  • Infection
  • Failure of Procedure

Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure

During the radiofrequency ablation, a needle is advanced to the medial branch nerves of the facet joint using X-Ray guidance. Once the needle is placed properly, the nerve is heated using high-frequency radio waves until the nerve is unable to send signals to the brain and spinal cord. Following the procedure, patient’s are monitored in the office for about 30 minutes.

Recovery from Radiofrequency Ablation

After the radiofrequency procedure, patients may experience mild bruising and swelling in the treated area, but are usually able to return to your regular activities shortly after treatment.

The results of the radiofrequency ablation treatment are usually visible within a week or two after treatment, at which point symptoms tend to subside as well.

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