Everything to Know About Radiofrequency Lesioning


December 1, 2020

If pain management treatments or interventional medicine do not provide you relief from chronic pain, radiofrequency lesioning may be the solution to your problem.

What is Radiofrequency Lesioning?

Radiofrequency lesioning (RFL) is a pain management procedure that targets specific nerves and disrupts their ability to communicate pain signals to the brain, offering a longer pain relief duration. Special needles inserted through your skin deliver electric impulses that “burns” the selected nerve to stop it from relaying pain signals, reducing the patient’s pain.

RF lesioning can be used to treat chronic pain conditions such as low back pain or neck pain, sprains & strains, spinal arthritis & stenosis, etc.

How is RFL Performed?

Before Radiofrequency Lesioning

Before the procedure is performed, your SEPSC physician will run a diagnostic nerve block to determine if you’re a fit candidate and how effective the procedure will be to you. If you respond well to the diagnostic block, then chances are your RF lesioning will be successful.

Tell your doctor if you’re taking any medication, such as blood-thinning medication, and you’ll be guided accordingly. For example, you may be required to stop taking some drugs several days before your RF lesioning.

During Radiofrequency Lesioning

Your physician will administer local anesthetics to keep you comfortable during the procedure. A fluoroscope X-Ray machine is used to ensure the radiofrequency needles are accurately placed to the specific nerves being treated.

Depending on the areas being treated, this process may take about 30- 60 minutes.

After Radiofrequency Lesioning

The procedure is followed by a brief resting period in a recovery room until you feel ready to go home. It is not advised to drive for at least 24 hours after the procedure, so you should have someone drive you home.
Once at home:
• Apply an ice pack; it will help with the soreness.
• Only shower for the first two days after the procedure; avoid baths.

Procedure Follow-up

Keep track of your pain level and other symptoms after your RF lesioning procedure. Recording this information in a daily journal will help you to record accurate and detailed information. This pain diary will provide valuable information to your doctor about your progress in your next follow-up office visit.

How Safe is Radiofrequency Lesioning?

RF lesioning is generally a safe procedure and involves very little risk. Common side effects include; temporary leg numbness, mild back discomfort, and soreness at the injection areas. However, these will go away in a few hours or days. Rare, serious complications include bleeding, infection, and nerve damage.

When To Expect Pain Relief And How Long Will It Last?

Most people experience significant pain relief a week after the procedure, but this can take up to 3-4 weeks in some people.
After a successful RF lesioning, you can expect pain relief for about 6-9 months.

This varies among individuals, and some might experience pain relief for a longer period. However, it is not a permanent fix for chronic pain since the blocked nerves tend to regenerate (re-grow) over time, and you may need to have the procedure repeated in the future.

SEPSC Is Ready To Help

For more information about any aspect of this treatment, do not hesitate to reach out to us today. Our doctors at Southeast Pain & Spine Care have the expertise and experience to put your days living in pain behind you.