Radiofrequency Ablation

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At the UCLA Health Spine Center, our experts diagnose, manage and treat all spinal injuries and conditions. Call 310-319-3475 to connect with a spine specialist.

In facet joint syndrome when facet joints become inflamed, their nerves can transmit severe pain.

Radiofrequency is an injection procedure that uses heat to block these nerves and provide temporary (four to six month) pain relief.

The procedure is done similar to the facet injection, using a heating element from high radiofrequency signals much like a microwave oven. The needle is placed near the area of the joint where the nerve is located.

Side view of the cervical spine showing the facet joint

A stimulator unit is placed over the nerves to identify which one is responsible for the back pain. Once the appropriate location is found, medication is applied to prevent pain during the 90-second radiofrequency injection. If relief does not occur, the procedure can be repeated to attempt further blocking of the nerve.