Lumbar & Cervical Radiofrequency Ablation/Lesioning

If you’re in need of long term pain relief, you may be a candidate for Radiofrequency ablation/lesioning. This procedure selectively destroys the nerves responsible for pain by harnessing the power of heat energy.


The treatment uses Radiofrequency waves, which have the ability to travel at the speed of light and vibrate at super high frequencies. By using a special generator, the energy can be harnessed and directed towards specific nerves. These nerves, which carry pain impulses and cause chronic discomfort, can be destroyed by the targeted heat energy.

An Effective Treatment

If you’ve tried treatments like Epidural Steroid Injections and Sympathetic Nerve Blocks and found them inadequate, you may be a good candidate for Radiofrequency ablation/lesioning. This treatment is most frequently used by patients who have already tried other pain relieving procedures. Instead of masking the pain, this treatment targets the nerves that cause it. By denervating the essential structure of pain, longer lasting pain relief can be achieved.

The Procedure

Before the procedure, doctors will identify the structures that generate pain. Once these structures have been inspected, a needle is placed into the nerves.

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Live video X-Ray technology is used to ensure that the needle is placed in the correct position. To ensure that the electric current only reaches the intended nerve, most of the needle is surrounded by a layer of insulation.

Once the needle is in place, the doctor may send a small dose of electrical current to the targeted nerve. This trial helps the doctor confirm that the electrical current is being sent to the correct nerve. Once everything is prepared, the doctor will heat the needle tip for approximately two minutes in order to destroy the nerve.

The procedure is not very painful, and the pain is comparable to other pain relieving injection procedures like Epidural Steroid Injections. Some patients are given mild intravenous sedation, which can further lessen any pain.

Candidates for the Treatment

Most patients who undergo RFL have chronic back pain. This pain is caused by a variety of issues, including whiplash, spinal surgeries, and spinal arthritis. People with neuropathic pain conditions may also respond well to the treatment. Before undergoing the treatment, patients are often asked to try a Diagnostic Nerve Block, which can help determine whether their pain would respond to RFL.

Before the Treatment

Patients who choose to undergo RFL to take care not to eat or drink for eight hours prior to the treatment. They should avoid medications that cause blood thinning but take any medications prescribed for high blood pressure.

After the Treatment

After the RFL procedure is finished, it is best to return home. Patients typically spend the day resting. If sedation was administered before the procedure, patients shouldn’t drive for the rest of the day.

Radiofrequency ablation/lesioning is a treatment options recommended for people suffering from chronic pain. If you have back pain or neuropathic pain that hasn’t responded to other treatment options, you may want to discuss RFL with your doctor.