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Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure that has gained prominence in the management of chronic pain. Utilizing electrical currents to generate heat, RFA targets and destroys nerve tissue that transmits pain signals, thereby offering patients long-term relief. This guide briefly overviews RFA, including its mechanism, application, and what patients can expect.

Mechanism of Action

RFA involves inserting a needle-like electrode into the area near the pain source. Under local anesthesia, radiofrequency energy is delivered through the electrode, heating the nerve tissue to a temperature that renders it incapable of transmitting pain signals. This process disrupts the pain pathway, significantly relieving chronic pain conditions.


RFA is effective in treating various chronic pain conditions, including but not limited to arthritis, herniated discs, facet joint pain, and neuropathic pain. It is particularly beneficial for patients who have yet to respond to conventional pain management strategies.

Procedure Overview

Performed on an outpatient basis, RFA typically involves the following steps: patient assessment to determine suitability, application of local anesthesia, precise electrode placement using imaging guidance, delivery of radiofrequency energy, and a short recovery period. The entire process is relatively quick, with patients often returning home the same day.


RFA offers several advantages over traditional pain management approaches. These include prolonged pain relief, minimal invasiveness, quick recovery times, and the ability to target pain-causing nerves precisely. Furthermore, RFA can be repeated if necessary, providing an ongoing solution for chronic pain management.

Risks and Side Effects

As with any medical procedure, RFA carries potential risks, though they are generally low. These may include discomfort at the insertion site, temporary numbness or weakness, infection, and, in rare cases, nerve damage. Patients must discuss these risks with their healthcare provider.

Recovery and Aftercare

Post-procedure, patients may experience some soreness or bruising at the treatment site, which typically resolves within a few days. Most individuals can resume normal activities shortly after the procedure, adhering to any specific aftercare instructions provided by their healthcare provider to ensure optimal recovery.


RFA represents a valuable option in the spectrum of pain management strategies, offering sustained relief for patients suffering from chronic pain conditions.

At Columbia Pain Management, we understand the evolving science of pain and provide innovative treatments to help you reclaim your life. If you’re trapped by unrelenting pain, our experts guide you toward healing and fulfillment. Call 503-654-5636 or 541-205-0173 to schedule an appointment. We’re committed to helping you find relief and improve your quality of life. Let us assist you in taking the first step toward a pain-free life.