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APM Spine & Sports Physicians

Radiofrequency Lesioning

What is radiofrequency lesioning?

Radiofrequency (RF) lesioning is considered to be a safe, proven way of treating chronic facet joint pain.

Who is a candidate for this procedure?

  • Individuals who have had spinal pain for at least 3 months and have tried more conservative treatment.
  • The source of the pain has been determined to be the facet joint.

How is the procedure performed?

With the patient lying on his or her stomach, the physician numbs the area with a local anesthetic. Under X-ray guidance, the doctor will then place a small needle near the tiny nerves which innervate the facet joints causing the pain. A small electrode is inserted through the needle to lesion the specific nerve. Very light electrical stimulation will be performed to confirm the exact location.

How long is the procedure?

Approximately 30 minutes to one hour.

Will I be sore after the procedure?

Most people do experience some discomfort for 1 day to 2 weeks after the procedure. Medication may be needed for 1-2 days after the procedure to help with the discomfort. Ice may also be applied to the region.

How long does the effect last?

Usually from one to several years. The lesioned nerves do regenerate over time. If the procedure is successful for a long period of time and the pain returns, then the RF lesioning can be repeated.