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Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency ablation, which is also known as rhizotomy, is one of the very latest pain control techniques. During this procedure, radiofrequency waves are delivered to certain nerves in a non-surgical way, with the goal of disrupting pain signals to the brain.

Radiofrequency ablation treats pain from the facet joints, which can cause chronic pain in the lower back or neck, and the sacroiliac joints. This can often contribute to chronic low back pain. Radiofrequency ablation is a treatment recommended for patients who receive a positive outcome for 2 Medial Branch Blocks.


RFA is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require anesthesia. During the procedure, you will lie on your stomach.

Your doctor will numb a small area of skin around your spine with an anesthetic. The doctor will then use X-ray guidance to direct a special radiofrequency needle alongside the targeted nerves. To confirm proper position, a small amount of electrical current is passed through a probe placed in the needle to the targeted nerve. At this point, you may experience brief pain or a muscle twitch.

Once proper position is confirmed, more local anesthetic is given to the area where the RFA will be performed. This is done a total of 3 times on one side of your back or neck

The procedure typically takes 15 minutes

What Causes Pain in the Epidural Space?

During this procedure, a local anesthetic or numbing medicine and a corticosteroid or anti-inflammatory medicine are injected into the epidural space to reduce inflammation.


After the procedure, you may experience soreness in the targeted area for a few days up to a week.

Although results vary from patient to patient, the effectiveness of RFA may last an average of 12 months and up to 2 years for some patients.

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