Chronic pain is one of the hardest things a person can endure. If you’ve ever experienced pain in your knees, shoulders, or back for an extended period of time, you know just how disruptive and frustrating prolonged discomfort can be. What’s worse is that many people with severe knee and back pain don’t find relief through medication or physical therapy. Fortunately, there is an alternative to surgery known as radiofrequency lesioning, which can provide serious, long-term pain relief. Radiofrequency lesioning (or RF or RFL) is one of our most popular treatment options, and we’ll review everything you need to know about it here:
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What Is Radiofreqency Lesioning
Radiofrequency lesioning is a procedure designed to eliminate chronic joint pain in the knees or back. The therapy is an outpatient procedure involving a special radiofrequency needle designed to transmit electrical impulses to destroy damaged nerves and tissue. Unlike other treatment options, radiofrequency lesioning is designed to stop pain at the source –– the nerves.
Radiofrequency lesioning is also known as radiofrequency nerve ablation.
How Radiofrequency Lesioning Works
The sensation of “pain” is a neurological response. Certain parts of the body –– like the knee –– contain many sensory nerves that constantly send back “messages” to the brain. When these nerves become permanently damaged, individuals suffer from chronic pain.
RF acts to safely, effectively, and temporarily eradicate nerve tissue in the knee or back that has become damaged beyond repair. During the procedure, medical professionals use X-ray guidance to accurately target damaged nerve tissue with a special, insulated needle. The needle transmits a precise thermal lesion through a radiofrequency current.
Once the targeted nerves have been neutralized, patients often experience a dramatic improvement in pain and blood flow to the affected area. In addition, surrounding muscles may begin to show improved function and loss of atrophy as the inhibitory pain sensations subside.
Who Is a Candidate for the RF Procedure
Patients with Knee Pain
The three sensory nerves surrounding the knee are called the genicular nerves. They are located outside of the joint capsule, adjacent to the distal femur and proximal tibia. An RF procedure to ablate (remove) the genicular nerves can be used in several scenarios.
First, it can be used in conjunction with regenerative stem cell injections into the knees to help diminish pain, improve blood flow, and expedite healing.
The radiofrequency procedure can also be employed as a standalone pain relief procedure for patients who have ongoing pain and do not want to undergo a major invasive surgery –– such as a knee replacement. It can also be utilized in knee replacement patients that have persistent pain despite having undergone the surgery.
The procedure can also be an excellent means of providing postoperative relief for patients with ongoing pain –– even after they’ve already undergone surgical repair. For examples of stem cell patients we have treated for knee or other joint pain, you can check out our joint & soft tissue case studies here.
Patients with Back Pain
Radiofrequency is also employed for the treatment of spinal facet joint pain. It is often administered in conjunction with stem cell back injections. The nerves targeted for the facet procedure are called medial branch nerves. These nerves are located outside of the spinal canal and are easily accessed for radiofrequency lesioning with live x-ray guidance. The destruction of these nerves allows for the rebuilding of the supportive muscles of the spine, as well as profound pain relief.
Similarly, individuals who want to avoid major surgery –– or who have found physical therapy or other medications insufficient –– may be good candidates for pain relief through RF procedures.
For examples of stem cell patients we have treated for back pain, please review these case studies.
The Radiofrequency Lesioning Procedure
This procedure is done as a minimally invasive outpatient procedure and is performed in under an hour. Individuals may experience some soreness where the needle enters the skin, but this typically abates after a day or two. Other side effects are very rare, but can include bleeding, infection, and nerve damage.
At ThriveMD, Dr. Brandt has been performing radiofrequency procedures for 20+ years and our patients continue to benefit from this excellent treatment. Be sure to choose your RF physician carefully to avoid the potential risks and complications that inexperience may cause. RF treatments are a powerful complement to the regenerative medicine procedures of the knee and spine as well as a standalone procedure for pain relief.
Cost of Radiofrequency Lesioning
ThriveMD is able to offer the RF procedure at a very reasonable price because we utilize our own state-of-the-art in-office procedure suite. We are able to avoid the added costs associated with a large surgical facility and anesthesia services.
*Individual patient results may vary. Contact us today to find out if radiofrequency lesioning may be able to help you.