Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure used to reduce pain. It involves inserting a needle-like probe into the body and sending radiofrequency waves from the probe into the surrounding tissue, resulting in the death of nearby cells. This procedure is done in a doctor's office or hospital and patients usually return home the same day. RFA, also known as rhizotomy, is one of the newest pain control techniques. It works by sending radiofrequency waves to certain nerves, aiming to interrupt pain signals to the brain.
The electric current produced by the radio wave is used to heat a small area of nerve tissue, decreasing pain signals from that specific area. Radiofrequency ablation has been used very successfully to treat people who have heart rhythm problems. More recently, it has been used to destroy tumors and treat pain. It is a safe and effective way to reduce pain that has not been helped by other approaches.