Certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine, American Board of Osteopathic Physical Medicine and Pain Management
Radiofrequency Ablation Q & A
What is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Radiofrequency ablation is a treatment option that uses radio waves. The radio waves are sent along a needle that is placed on a nerve that is known to be a pathway for pain signals. As the radio waves begin to pulse, the current is sent along the needle and directed onto the nerve. The nerve is “sealed” or cauterized, preventing any further pain signals from making their way to the brain and back down to the injured areas of the body. Radiofrequency ablation offers very few side effects and minimal downtime. A person who has the procedure may be able to resume their regular day to day activities within a few hours of the procedure.
What Conditions can Radiofrequency Ablation Treat?
Radiofrequency ablation can help a wide variety of health conditions that have to do with nerve pain. Diabetic neuropathy, sciatica, pinched nerves in the neck, back, and hip are just a few of the most common conditions. Individuals who have spinal stenosis may also be able tor have their pain relieved using the radiofrequency ablation procedure. This type of treatment works well for patients who suffer from long-term, chronic pain caused by an old injury or a progressive health condition like fibromyalgia, arthritis, or neuropathy. When used with physical therapy and exercise, radiofrequency ablation can be extremely effective at offering long lasting results.
How Long Does a Treatment Last?
A single radiofrequency ablation treatment lasts 15-60 minutes but the procedure as a whole is expected to last for 6-10 months. The doctor will normally use an ultrasound or similar type of device to guide the needle into place so the radio waves can be directed exactly where the doctor wants them along the surface of the nerve. The patient may feel a tingling or burning sensation during the treatment, but this normally does not last long. Once the procedure is finished, the patient may want to rest for a few hours but once they are home they should be able to resume their normal day to day routine.