Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation

The goal of a radiofrequency ablation is to prolong the relief received from a medial branch block or facet joint injection. Typically, the radiofrequency ablation relieves pain in the back for up to 6-12 months. Radiofrequency ablations are only performed once a patient receives pain relief from an injection and the appropriate source of pain has been identified.

What is a Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation?

A radiofrequency ablation interrupts the sensory signal to the involved facet joint through the use of thermal energy that ablates the nerves. After a local skin anesthetic is applied to the patient’s back, the physician guides a needle via fluoroscopy x-ray to the transverse process bone. The needle is positioned over the bone where the nerves are typically located. Thermal energy is then delivered to create a lesion on the nerve, thus disrupting the pain signal.

What Conditions Does Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation Treat?

  • Facet arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Back spasms

Who is a candidate for lumbar facet radiofrequency procedure?

Typically a patient’s candidacy for lumbar facet radiofrequency is determined by the performance of a diagnostic medial branch nerve block.  The procedure will help to confirm the location of the pain and relief the duration of the local anesthetic. Patients who receive no pain management results after the diagnostic nerve block are not candidates for a lumbar radiofrequency procedure.

What are the advantages of the Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation Therapy?

  • Same-day procedure
  • Local anesthesia
  • No skin incision
  • No recovery time; typically, patients can go back to work the following day
  • Pain relief lasts for 6-12 months, and for some patients up to 18 months
  • Least-invasive procedure


  • To see if you are a good candidate for a radiofrequency ablation procedure, take our pain evaluation questionnaire and someone from our office will follow-up with you as soon as possible.

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