Radiofrequency Facet Joints Ablations

Those experiencing facet joint pain know how debilitating it can be. Even simple tasks are usually carried out with extreme pain. Perhaps you are currently in this situation.

We know how unnerving this condition can be. Fortunately, many have found long-term relief through a therapeutic procedure called radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

Schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained specialists at Cayman Neurology today to learn more about this procedure. We are conveniently located in the Cayman Islands and look forward to assisting you!

What Is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat pain in your facet joint. This procedure uses heat to destroy the nerve endings that send pain signals to the brain, providing lasting relief for those experiencing chronic pain.

What Is the Purpose of Radiofrequency Ablation?

The purpose of radiofrequency ablation is to provide relief from pain that comes from your joints and contributes to pain in your necklower back, and sacroiliac joints.

Your facet joints are located along the sides of your vertebrae. As you age, the cushion between the vertebrae begins to degenerate. This leaves your spine susceptible to friction, and places added pressure and stress on your joints, which results in pain.

You have specific nerves that branch off your spinal cord and pass through your facet joint. RFA heats and burns the passageway that transmits the pain signals from the nerves (medial branch nerves) in the back to the brain. Once completed, your brain will be unable to receive the signals that notify it to feel the sensation of pain.

What Conditions Can Be Treated by RFA?

The following conditions can be treated by RFA:

  • Chronic pain caused by arthritis of the spine and/or sacroiliac joint pain
  • Neck, knee, or chronic low back pain
  • Pain from cancer
  • Tumors
  • Peripheral nerve pain

Who Would Make a Good Candidate for RFA?

  • You may make a good candidate for radiofrequency ablation if you have:

    • Experienced pain relief after having a nerve block injection. This pinpoints that that specific nerve is the source of your pain and lets your doctor know that it is an appropriate target for RFA.
    • Pain that fails to respond to other treatment methods, including pain medication and/or physical therapy

How Is a Radiofrequency Ablation Performed?

Radiofrequency ablation is performed on an outpatient basis and under local anesthesia. Below are the general steps of how this procedure is carried out.

During your procedure:

  1. First, you will be given sedation to manage pain for the duration of the procedure.
  2. Your medical team will carefully clean your back to reduce the risk of infection.
  3. The area will then be numbed using a local anesthetic.
  4. Then your doctor will use an X-ray to guide the needles, and an electrode will be placed into position.
  5. Once the position is verified, the electrode will heat the sensory nerve, creating a lesion that prevents the nerve from sending pain signals to your brain.
  6. Once completed, the instruments will be removed.
  7. Your doctor will then apply bandages to the area.


After your procedure, you will be taken into a recovery area to be monitored. While the time spent in recovery will vary from person to person, the average time spent there is between one and three hours. Additionally, you may be able to resume normal activity after one or two days.

The Advantages of Radiofrequency Ablation

There are many advantages to having a radiofrequency ablation procedure, including:

  • Being free of pain for up to two years
  • Increased range of motion
  • Improved function that enables you to have the ability to perform everyday tasks without pain
  • Reduced need for or delayed surgery
  • Minimal recovery time

The Risks of Radiofrequency Facet Joints Ablations

Radiofrequency facet joint ablations are generally safe and effective. These procedures have a low risk of complication because open surgery is not used.

However, while rare, there are some risks associated with the procedure. These risks include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Pain at the site of the ablation

The Results of Radiofrequency Facet Joints Ablations

The results of radiofrequency facet joint ablations vary from person to person, but most people experience a significant reduction in pain. For some, pain relief can last from six months to 12 months. For others, the relief lasts a few years. Still, there are those who may only experience a limited amount of pain relief.

Will I Need to Have an RFA Procedure Multiple Times?

A radiofrequency ablation procedure can be repeated multiple times if needed. Please note that the treated nerve can regrow. If this is the case in your situation, it usually occurs between 6 to 12 months after your procedure.

Difference Between RFA and Facet Joint Injections

There are several differences between RFA and facet joint injections. For example, RFA provides longer-lasting relief than a facet joint injection.

Additionally, RFA stops pain signals but doesn’t reduce inflammation, as is the case with a joint injection.

Dealing with pain can not only take a toll on you physically but also emotionally. Let us provide the treatment that you have been searching for!

Cayman Neurology is conveniently located in the Cayman Islands. Schedule an appointment with us today!

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