Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure used to treat severe, chronic-back pain originating from the facet joints in your spine. This procedure is also commonly referred to as “radiofrequency nerve ablation,” “medial branch neurotomy” or “facet rhizotomy.” The procedure involves lesioning or burning the medial branch nerves that carry pain signals from the facet joint using heat generated from an electrode (insulated needle with a special tip). The procedure can be done using a local anesthetic, and a mild sedative is often usually used to reduce any patient anxiety or pain from the procedure.
During the procedure, the physician uses the electrode to lesion the tiny nerve branches responsible for transmitting pain signals to and from the facet joints. After the procedure, many patients may feel pain for one-to-two weeks, and may take up to two months to see the full benefit from the procedure.