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Radio Frequency Treatment

What is an Radio Frequency treatment?

Radio frequency treatment is a heat treatment injection into an area causing pain.

How does it work?


The nerve causing the irritation is found; the needle lies across the nerve and heats up, creating a lesion on the surface of the nerve. This interrupts the impulses running up and down the nerve, stopping the pain impulses you felt in the area. There is no medication injected during this treatment.

What kind of pain does it treat?

Any pain can be treated using this technique. The most useful applications are for neck (cervical), mid (thoracic) and low back (lumbar) pain. We test you prior to performing an RF treatment by injecting you with a numbing medicine into the same location (usually we use Lidocaine). If you have relief of pain for even just a few hours, we know we are in the right spot!

Does it hurt?

The surgical staff uses local numbing medicine (Lidocaine), so only a slight pressure should be felt.

How long does it take?

It takes a little longer than an injection. Your length of time in procedure is determined by how many locations are treated. The typical time is 30-60 minutes.

What can I expect in healing time?

You may have some irritation in the area with some local swelling. This is a normal reaction to the treatment performed. Ice and anti-inflammatory agents (such as Advil or Aleve) may help. It may last anywhere from a few days to 8 weeks.

Is it permanent?

The body will try to heal the lesion over the next 8-15 months. During that time, tiny nerves are created that bypass the lesion while it heals. This scatters the impulses through the many pathways that have grown in that location. There is a possibility that you may be pain free forever at that location after treatment. If you had a pain score of 8/10 before the treatment, you may only have a 2-4/10 after. As the nerve repairs the lesion the pain may return, but it should not reach the same intensity as before the treatment. You could have the treatment repeated, if you decide the pain is strong enough when it returns.

What are my risks?

RF treatment is an invasive procedure, so there is a slight risk of infection due to the puncture hole made in the skin by the needle. Other risks include swelling of the area, bruising, and pain after the procedure,  as well as loss of sensation to the wrong nerve. Careful steps are taken in all of these areas to minimize risks and maximize efficacy of treatment.

What can I do to prepare?

Wear comfortable clothing to the surgery center. You must have a driver to take you home after the test. No food or drink six hours before the test. Do not take your pain medication within six hours of the test, but you may take your regular medications with water (blood pressure, diabetic, etc).