Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency (RF) techniques require a special machine allowing interruption of the nerve conduction on a semi-permanent basis. With the “classic” RF technology, RF waves pass down a needle causing an increased temperature and partial destruction of the nerve it is near. This is most commonly done for people with neck or back pain due to facet arthritis, who have had a very good response (but unfortunately only for a short period of time) with a steroid injection of their facet joint. Newer technology allows us to do a “pulsed” RF, or intermittent bursts of RF, creating an electromagnetic field (EMF) about the nerve to interrupt the nerve conduction. Pulsed RF is most commonly done with peripheral neuralgias on nerves that have only a sensory component (i.e., only on nerves that do not also innervate or control our muscles). Prior to either RF technique, diagnostic blocks with local anesthetic only are required.  RF often provides permanent benefit, but does sometimes require a repeat RF in the future.


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