Radiofrequency ablation is considered a legitimate medical treatment for back pain, according to WebMD. In the procedure, radio waves produce an electrical current that, when applied to nerve tissue, decreases pain.
Radiofrequency ablation is typically used to treat patients with chronic back pain, neck pain or arthritis pain resulting from joint degeneration. Patients with bleeding problems or infections are not good candidates for radiofrequency ablation because of the slight risk of bleeding and infection at the site of treatment. Swelling and bruising can also occur at the treatment site, as WebMD explains. Radiofrequency ablation is considered safe and effective, with its effects lasting anywhere from six months to several years.