Radiofrequency (RF) Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RF ablation) treatment is a drug-free therapy that involves the movement of energy to destroy abnormal tissue that may cause pain or disease. RF ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses an electrical current to burn nerve tissue and reduce pain signals. This treatment is commonly used in the management of spinal and neuropathic (nerve damage) conditions which can include chronic migraines, pain of the lower back, and pain in the neck. RF ablation is usually performed with local anesthetic and mild sedation.


Chronic Lower Back & Neck Pain 

RF ablation can be used to help patients with nerve damage or arthritic joint pain in the lower back and neck. Two common sources of lower back pain where RF ablation may be a possible treatment include lumbar radicular pain, chronic pain of the lower back and legs, and pain from lumbar facet joints. 

Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain 

RF ablation can be used to help destroy the nerves responsible for transmitting pain from the SI joint which is commonly caused by potential injuries from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, work injuries, leg length imbalance and arthritis. 

Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) 

RF ablation can be used as a possible treatment to help trigeminal neuralgia; a common cause of intense, sharp, or stabbing facial pain. 

Specific Cancers and Tumors 

RF ablation can be used for small tumors, bone tumors, lung tumors, liver tumors, kidney tumors, and pancreatic cancer.


Once a diagnosis is made for which RF ablation is a possible treatment, a procedure will be scheduled. For the procedure, sterilized needles are used, and when appropriate, the proper anesthetic is used to numb the area where a small incision will be made. A tiny inserted needle is then safely navigated to a precise destination where radiofrequency stimulus will be applied to the tissue causing pain. 

RF ablation has proven to be a safe and effective way to treat some forms of pain. It is generally well-tolerated, with very few associated complications. There is a slight risk of infection and bleeding at the insertion site. Your doctor can advise you about your particular risk.

Side Effects

The main side effect of RF ablation is some discomfort, including swelling and bruising at the site of the treatment, but this generally goes away after a few days. Additional side effects include increased skin sensitivity, a temporary increase in pain from inflammation of the surgical site, headaches, and unintentional damage of nearby blood vessels, nerves, and tissues to the targeted site. 

As with any medical procedure, RF ablation is not appropriate for everyone. For example, radiofrequency ablation is not recommended for people who have active infections or bleeding problems. Your doctor can tell you if you should not have RF ablation


These doctors specialize in chronic pain management and can help diagnose, treat and manage your condition. 


A doctor that administers medicine to put patients asleep during surgery, renders them numb for local procedures, or reduces chronic pain through injections. 


A doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation that treats both acute and chronic pain with a variety of nonsurgical treatments. 


A surgeon that diagnoses and treats pain resulting from disorders of the spine, spinal cord, nerves, brain, intracranial and intraspinal vasculature. 

Orthopedic Surgeon 

A surgeon that diagnoses and treats pain resulting from spinal disorders, arthritis, sports injuries, trauma, and fractures. 


A doctor that diagnoses and treats chronic pain patients’ psychological disorders with counseling, behavioral therapy and medication.