Expert Blog

Suffering Chronic Lower Back Pain? Radiofrequency Ablation Could Help

Lower back red spot

If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, you may have sought various remedies for many years. But many of those treatments fail to solve the painful issues of some patients. The good news is that modern technology is constantly updating, and today you have new options using the latest techniques. 

One of these treatments you may have heard about, or been recommended, is known as radio-frequency ablation. What is this procedure? How does it affect you? And where should you start? Here are a few answers to your questions. 


Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a technique in which the affected nerves are ablated, or destroyed, using an intense burst of heat. When the nerve is burned in this manner, it stops being able to send pain signals to the brain and provides relief to patients who have not found relief from other, non-invasive methods. 


Because RFA is a relatively simple procedure, you can generally have it done in your doctor's office or in an outpatient surgery center. The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the area that will be injected. Then, he or she will use imaging information to guide a needle to the exact spot of the affected nerve.

The probing needle will deliver the ablation quickly and efficiently. The patient is then allowed to comfortably recover from the mild anesthetic. Most patients experience some post-procedural discomfort simply due to the probe insertion. They may also feel drowsy from the low-level anesthetic for a few hours. 


While this procedure may sound a little scary, it is in fact quite safe. Imaging sources guide the doctor in the insertion of the probe by using a combination of imaging sources. The doctor will also likely have Xrays and other images from earlier visits so they can pinpoint the specific nerve bundles involved. Further, live imaging guides the insertion during the ablation procedure. 

The probe insertion itself will likely cause very minimal bleeding, and the doctor's team will monitor each patient for any changes during or after the procedure. Due to anesthetic effects, you will likely also be asked to have someone else drive you home and possibly stay with you for a few hours after the procedure. 


Radiofrequency ablation is not the first place that most back pain patients begin their healing journey. You will first want to consult with an experienced spinal pain management specialist. They may recommend that you try non-invasive treatments such as physical therapy or lifestyle adjustments first. Some patients can avoid larger-scale treatments by taking advantage of simpler ones.

However, if you have tried less complex treatment options, your doctor will then assess whether your particular condition might respond well to RFA. How?

To ensure its efficacy and your body's response to potential nerve ablation, your doctor may perform one or more tests using diagnostic tools like nerve blocks. A nerve block is a temporary form of the same procedure that numbs rather than destroys the specific nerves. Doing this test will help you and your provider learn if you are a good candidate for ablation. 

Do you think that RFA could help treat your lower back pain? No matter whether you have tried other treatments or you are seeking help for the first time, start by meeting with a specialist today. At Sonoran Spine, our team provides the most up-to-date medical treatments for all types of chronic spinal pain conditions. Call today to make an appointment and start your journey to back pain relief.