Radiofrequency ablation or lesioning is a treatment utilizing radiowaves and heat to destroy tissue, in our case a nerve, for pain relief. Radiofrequency has also been used for treating fast heartbeats and tumors with great success.
Radiofrequency rhizotomy (or RFTC, radiofrequency thermocoagulation) of the spinal facet joints provides significant pain relief in well selected patients with facet joint syndrome which can include symptoms of neck pain, back pain, arm pain, gluteal pain and leg pain.
RFTC is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Sometimes intravenous sedation is used to help the patient relax. During the procedure, radiofrequency waves are transmitted through the tip of a specialized needle placed into the facet joint under x-ray guidance. The heat generated from the needle coagulates the nerve and renders it non-effective for transmitting pain impulses – thus providing pain relief.