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Radiofrequency ablation, also known as a rhizotomy or RFA, involves the production of an electrical current that heats nerve tissue in order to reduce pain. This pain management treatment can be performed in the thoracic, lumbar, or cervical areas of the spine.

How it Works

Radiofrequency ablation is performed by sending radio waves to particular areas of nerve tissue. The radio waves produce an electric current that heats the nerve tissue. This is designed to interfere with pain signals by reducing the number of overall pain signals that can be sent through the targeted area.

The procedure takes about one hour, and patients are typically advised not to eat beforehand. X-ray imaging is used in order to guide the doctor to specific nerves. Before the nerve is targeted, a small electrical current is used to confirm the proper position. Many patients report experiencing only a mild, warm sensation during radiofrequency ablation.


Radiofrequency ablation can be performed in cases of:

  • Facet syndrome
  • Cancer pain
  • Arthritis pain
  • Chronic pain in the neck or lower back


The results that you experience after radiofrequency ablation are quick. The duration of your relief depends on the source of your pain. For example, some patients experience relief for six to 12 months following the procedure, while others have relief for years.

It is common to experience some soreness, bruising, and swelling in the targeted area. This only lasts for a few days. You will be unable to drive for the rest of the day, but should be able to resume normal activities the following day.

If you’d like to learn more or schedule a consultation, contact Allied Pain & Spine Institute today.

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