Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Treatment by Dr. Vivek Loomba


Radiofrequency ablation is a type of pain treatment in which radiofrequency is used to reduce pain. It heats a small area of nerve tissue by placing needles. It helps in decreasing pain signals at the targeted area by preventing these signals from being sent back to the brain. It is prominently used to acquire long-term pain relief among people with chronic pain and conditions such as arthritis, lower back pain, or neck pain.

Why Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is done?

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is performed to –

  • Reduce Pain
  • Improve functionalities
  • Reduce the pain medication intake
  • Avoid or delay costly surgeries

What diseases can be treated with Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)?

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is used to treat conditions such as –

  • Chronic Pain
  • Neck, lower back, and knee pain
  • Cancer Pain
  • Peripheral nerve pain
  • Heartbeat rate
  • Tumors
  • Arthritis
  • Facial pain 
  • Facet and Sacroiliac Joint Pain

How Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) procedure is performed?

A radiologist will position you to lie on your stomach on a special X-ray table. Your condition will be screened on the monitor by the healthcare provider. Medications may be given during the procedure. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area before the needle is inserted.

  • A small needle is inserted into the area after analysis of the needle placement through fluoroscopy.
  • Once the needle is inserted into the site a test is performed for confirmation. In this test, a microelectrode is inserted through a hollow needle. If you feel a tingling sensation then accurate needle insertion is done.
  • After the target location is found, a local anesthetic is injected through the needle to numb the target area.
  • Radiofrequency is sent to the target area for heating of nerves.
  • It destroys the nerve area by preventing pain signals to reach your brain.
  • RFA targets multiple areas at the same time, providing fast and efficient pain relief.

Benefits of Radiofrequency Ablation

The advantages of Radiofrequency Ablation include –

  • It is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat various medical conditions.
  • It uses high-frequency electrical current to heat and destroy targeted tissue, providing relief from pain and other symptoms.
  • Fewer complications.
  • Shorter recovery time.
  • Improved quality of life for patients.
  • Improvement in functionalities.
  • No need for pain medications.

Side effects and Risks of Radiofrequency Ablation     

The risks and side effects of Radiofrequency Ablation during the procedure are –

  • Pain or burning sensation.
  • Pain lasts for one to two weeks at the injection site.
  • Ice pack application becomes necessary to relieve the pain.
  • Low complications.
  • Permanent nerve damage.
  • Previous pain may get triggered again.
  • Infection and bleeding at the injection site.

How long does the Radiofrequency Ablation procedure last?

Radiofrequency Ablation is a time-saving procedure. It lasts for 15 minutes to two hours. It all depends on the location and number of areas to be treated in a patient.

How effective is the Radiofrequency Ablation procedure?

Radiofrequency Ablation provides significant pain relief in patients. It all depends on the location and areas of pain. Some patients get immediate pain relief while others see results after a few days or two weeks. It provides temporary but long-lasting pain relief for 6 to 12 months. The treated nerve starts growing after a certain amount of time causing pain and one can receive the RFA treatment again if required. 

Talk to your healthcare provider about the procedure and pain relief for your symptoms. Your provider will guide you on the basis of your conditions, pain, and severity level.