Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that creates heat by using an electrical current produced by a radio wave. This procedure is used to heat nerve tissue for the purpose of relieving pain. Radiofrequency ablation can be used to treat patients with chronic back, neck and joint pain, explains WebMD.
Radiofrequency ablation can be used to reduce pain signaling from the nerves in a specific area of the body. The resulting pain relief following the procedure varies, as it can last from months to years. More than 70 percent of patients treated with this procedure experience pain relief, reports WebMD.
The procedure is effective, safe and well-tolerated. Few complications are associated with the procedure, although there is a minimal risk of infection and bleeding due to a needle and electrode being inserted during the procedure, according to WebMD.
Prior to a radiofrequency ablation procedure, a patient may receive a sedative and local anesthetic. The patient generally remains awake during the procedure to assist with assessment of it. A needle is inserted into the area where pain is being experienced, and a microelectrode is then inserted through the needle to initiate the process, states WebMD. The doctor performing the procedure may ask a patient if a tingling sensation is felt in order to determine where the optimal placement area of the electrode should be.