Radiofrequency ablation uses a low level of electric current to heat up a small area of nerve tissue and stop the nerve from sending pain signals. Risks of complication from radiofrequency ablation are very low, but can include infection, bleeding and neuritis.
The procedure involves lying face down on an X-ray table. Your back is scrubbed with an antibacterial cleanser, and your physician uses an X-ray camera to identify the targets for injection. A local anesthetic is used to numb the skin. Thin needles are placed next to the medial branch nerves, and a microelectrode is placed through the needle. A small radiofrequency current heats the nerve tissue.
The procedure usually takes 20 minutes, and you can return to your normal activities the next day. The duration of pain relief is different for each patient but can last from six months to one year or more.
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