Radiofrequency Ablation Side Effects

Center : Nakornthon Absolute Spine Care

Article by : Dr. Teerachat Tanasansomboon

Radiofrequency Ablation Side Effects

Pain from spinal problems is no small matter, especially symptoms caused by herniated disc or stenosis of the sciatic nerve. If left for a long time, the back pain becomes chronic and severe. But severe back pain doesn't always mean surgery is needed. Most of them can be cured without surgery or reducing back pain by using radio frequencies which is an alternative to help heal and relieve back pain.

What is Radiofrequency Ablation

Reducing back pain by using Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is radiofrequency nerve stimulation. It is a method to reduce inflammation of the spinal joints and relieve pain in the neck and back by using heat from radio frequencies to stimulate the position of the bone joints pelvic joint or nerves that cause pain it is a method that does not require surgery.

When is Radiofrequency Ablation Necessary?

Patients need to be diagnosed and treated with other injectable pain medications and doing physical therapy before, but the symptoms have not improved or can only give temporary relief from pain, this may be the time to consider using radio frequency therapy. In addition, patients whose physical health is unfavorable for surgery, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, fear of infection. Radiofrequency treatment for back pain is another option to reduce pain symptoms and reduce the risk undergoing with surgery. Because it is a needle-based treatment, no stitches and the tissue injury is less.

RFA Procedure

Your doctor will ask about your history of symptoms and perform a physical exam to determine the cause of your pain, to assess whether this treatment can be used for you. After that, the doctor will inject an anesthetic into the area of ​​pain and see if the pain is gone. If the pain has subsided, this shows that this therapy is likely to be beneficial and will make an appointment to continue radio frequency therapy.

Steps in the treatment uses heat waves from radio frequencies. Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) targets nerves to block the transmission of pain signals in the spinal cord before reaching the brain. It takes about 1 hour to perform the procedure and after the procedure, the patient can go home without a hospital stay. But there should be a companion traveling home with and should not drive a car that day.

However, reducing back pain by using radio frequency waves may have very low side effects of only 1% such as pain, swelling, redness, needle insertion or no side effect at all.

Radiofrequency Ablation Side Effects

Common side effects may occur after radio frequency waves for back pain treatment, such as pain at the site of the procedure, lesions, some may bleed from the wound, which is usually small and can stops on its own. However, these complications are rare or do not occur at all.

Severe Pain from Radiofrequency Ablation Side Effects

Treatment of back pain using radiofrequency may cause serious side effects, but is very low , or it doesn't happen at all.


Infection may occur, but less than 1% of cases may have infection after the procedure, including:

  • Redness and swelling at the injection site.
  • Fever, chills
  • Bleeding from the injection site.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain in the wound area and does not improve.


The use of radio frequency waves may cause hypersensitivity to the skin. There may be pain or burning sensation during the procedure.

Nerve or blood vessel damage

The use of heat obtained by radio frequency hijacks the position of the bone joints.

Pelvic joints or nerves that cause pain are less likely or not at all to damage the surrounding nerves or blood vessels.

How Long Do Radiofrequency Ablation Side Effects Last?

Side effects can occur after the initial procedure, usually not more than 1 week.

Result from Radiofrequency Ablation

Average pain relief is 6-9 months and the success rate is 85%, but the degree of pain relief varies from person to person. It may take up to 3 weeks before the most noticeable relief from pain. This treatment may be repeated if the pain recurs after more than 6 months.

Self Care After Radiofrequency Ablation

Prevention of back pain from intervertebral disc disease or narrow nerve cavities, is to avoid or reduce risk factors such as activities that cause pain, including sitting or standing for a long time. Refrain from activities or sports that exert a lot of pressure on your back, such as bending your back, lifting things, and exercising your back muscles to keep them strong and flexible, as recommended by your doctor and physical therapist; and

  • control weight to prevent obesity to reduce the pressure on the cervical disc from body weight
  • Exercising properly, regularly
  • Know how to sit, stand, bend, and lift heavy objects correctly.
  • quit smoking
  • Eat healthy food from 5 food groups in the right amount at every meal.

Radiofrequency Ablation Side Effects Conclusion

Reducing back pain by using radio frequencies is a treatment that costs a lot less than surgery. No need to go to the hospital and is another alternative to reduce spinal nerve pain. This will help patients have a better quality of life without having to take pain medications daily.

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