What is RFA? How does it work?

Radiofrequency Ablation is normally used after a diagnostic block has been administered, and the source of a patient’s pain is identified. Most RFAs are given to treat neck and back pain, although they can also address issues such as knee, pelvic, discogenic, and facial pains. During a RFA procedure, your doctor will use a special type of needle that transmits radio waves and a mild electrical current to the problem nerve.

Benefits from RFA

Depending on a patient’s needs, the doctor can administer up to 3 RFA treatments in a single out-patient procedure. Radiofrequency Ablation can treat a variety of pains and can provide immediate relief. It also requires little recovery time and allows patients to return to normal daily activity very quickly.

When will I see results?

A single RFA treatment can provide results within 3 days of the procedure, and it’s effects last from 8 months to a full year.


This treatment only requires local anesthesia although IV sedation can also be given to make a patient more comfortable. The problem area will be sterilized and a small needle inserted with the help of real time x-ray equipment. When the needle is in the correct position, an electrode is placed within the needle, and your physician will do a sensory and motor test in the surrounding tissues. Once your doctor has navigated around accessory nerves, another local anesthetic will be injected through the needle to numb the area completely, and at this point the electrical current is given. The entire procedure takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, and you will be released after a certain amount of time.

Risk Factors

There is a risk of complication with any medical procedure. Take time to discuss treatment options and any questions you may have with your physician, before agreeing with a procedure.