Radiofrequency neurolysis, or ablation, is a procedure commonly used to provide long term relief of neck, back, shoulder, and knee pain related to arthritis. Once it has been determined that the joints are the cause of your pain, the nerves that supply sensation to the joints may be treated with this procedure to give relief for approximately 6 to 14 months, with the average relief being around 11-12 months when performed on properly selected patients.
The procedure is done in our in-office procedure suite under sterile conditions. Patients are sedated and the area to be treated is cleansed and then numbed with local anesthetic. Special needles are placed alongside the nerves to be treated using X-ray as a guide. Once in place the nerves are tested to assure proper placement of the needles, the nerves are then numbed with local anesthetic, and then treated. The treatment consists of heat applied to the tip of the needles to “cauterize,” or ablate, the nerve so it no longer transmits pain signals. Since the nerves are not cut, they will heal themselves over time. When the pain returns, the procedure may repeated.