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Also referred to radiofrequency lesioning, radiofrequency ablation desensitizes nerves that send pain signals to the brain. Your doctor might start by testing which nerve is sending the pain signals by using a nerve block, which numbs certain nerves in the area experiencing the pain.

The procedure takes 20 minutes to an hour, depending on which nerves are being blocked and how many. The injection area is cleaned and the skin numbed. The injection itself causes a slight tingling sensation, during which a portion of the nerve tissue is heated in order to prevent the transmission of pain signals.

What conditions does it treat?

Radiofrequency ablation is most often used for neck pain, back pain, and osteoarthritis pain. It can also be used as minimally invasive option for cancer pain, where the doctor inserts a thin needle and delivers electrical energy to heat and destroy a tumor.

What can I expect afterward?

Following the procedure you will feel slight discomfort at the injection site, which goes away in a few days. The length of relief from radiofrequency ablation depends on the person and the extent of your pain. However, the procedure typically lasts longer than other spinal injections. You might find that radiofrequency ablation lasts six to 12 months, sometimes longer.