Radiofrequency Ablation

Pain Services

Radiofrequency Ablation

What is radiofrequency ablation?

A Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is intended to provide long-term temporary relief (9 months-1 year) of chronic pain related to arthritis or joints. By using specialized needles and thermal energy we create a small, controlled lesion on the targeted sensory nerve, and the pain signal is temporarily disconnected. (These nerves regrow over the course of 9-12 months). This treatment is beneficial when chronic pain has not improved with more conservative approaches such as physiotherapy or medications, and surgery is not an option or not desired. If you have had two successful medial branch block treatments, then radiofrequency ablation may be an appropriate procedure to provide long-term pain relief. This procedure can be performed in the Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar regions of the spine as well we the Sacroiliac joints, and even the Knees.

Frequently asked questions:

Radiofrequency ablation is best utilized when chronic pain has appeared in the neck, the back, or in arthritic joints.  

Radiofrequency ablation may be an appropriate procedure for patients that have already had at least two successful medial branch block treatments. Meaning, the patients’ source of pain has been attributed to a certain facet joint(s). Radiofrequency ablation may also be an appropriate option for patients unable to have surgery. 

Once you arrive at the clinic you will be asked to complete a few forms pertaining to the appointment. To allow adequate time for this, please do arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. You may be instructed to change into a gown for your procedure.  


You will be taken back to a private exam room for your procedure. One of our technologists and a Radiologist will review your previous diagnostic imaging, discuss the reason for your referral to Beam Radiology, and explain the details of the recommended pain management treatment.

Communication is very important to Beam, and you will be given opportunity to ask any questions you may have before beginning. For spine RFA, you will be asked to lay down on the exam table, face down, and your back will be exposed. For knee RFA, you will be asked to lay on the bed face up, with the leg exposed.  The targeted area will be cleaned and sterilized. To ensure effectiveness and accuracy, fluoroscopy will be used in real-time to guide the injection. Fluoroscopy is a type of X-ray imaging. The Radiologist will inject a local anaesthetic to numb the area, followed by a specialized needle to deliver the thermal energy to the targeted nerve bundles.

Following your injection, you will be directed to our recovery area for a brief observation period. One of our Nurses will review the post-procedure care with you prior to you leaving. You will not be permitted to drive immediately following this procedure, please arrange transportation to and from your appointment.

Patients receiving radiofrequency ablation treatment typically experience pain relief between one to two weeks after the procedure. Patients can expect to have significantly reduced pain levels, a reduced reliance in pain medications, and improved lifestyle post-procedure. 

This procedure is performed using a sterile technique, rare complications include allergic reaction, infection, and bleeding. If you have diabetes, you may experience a temporary elevation in you blood sugar because of the corticosteroid (cortisone) medication.

Keep the area clean and dry. Avoid hot tubs, pools, or baths for 48 hours. You can shower normally. 

You can perform your normal daily activities but avoid strenuous activities for the next 3-4 days following the treatment.  

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