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Radio Frequency Ablation for Pain (RFA)


This simple procedure treats chronic pain. It involves heating part of a nerve to block its pain signals. Radiofrequency ablation can give you long-term pain relief.

How is it done? First, we numb an area of skin and tissue. With the help of a fluoroscope (a video x-ray device) we guide a needle through the numbed skin and tissue to the painful area. Then, we insert a thin electrode through this needle. We do some tests with the electrode to find the nerve or nerves that are causing your pain. Now, it's time to block your pain. We send radiofrequency current through the electrode. This creates a small, precise burn on the painful nerve. The burned spot stops pain signals from traveling through your nerve to your brain. We may need to treat more than one nerve to stop the pain signals. When it's done, you get a small bandage on your skin. You're watched in a recovery room for a brief time. Then, you can go home. You may feel sore, and you may still have pain. But you'll gradually feel pain relief. This can take several weeks.