Radiofrequency Lesioning

Radiofrequency Lesioning

Many people suffer from chronic pain and it greatly affects their quality of life.  As people live longer and longer, their bodies tend to take more wear and tear.  One of the most common causes of pain amongst aging adults is neck and back pain.  This type of paint can be debilitating for those living with it.  Back pain is common as we age for a wide variety of reasons including overuse, underuse, and overall aging.  Many people learn to live with pain because spinal surgery comes with many risks.  However, due to advances in medical technology, radiofrequency lesioning is a less invasive option to help lessen back pain.

Radiofrequency lesioning involves a physician finding the nerves that are emitting pain signals.  A medical instrument is placed under the skin and electricity is used to heat the tissue.  Local anesthesia or occasionally, IV sedation may be used.  The process as a whole takes less than an hour and patients may feel some soreness for up to a week.  Different patients will see different results.  But, an improvement in pain should last months and sometimes even years.  This means patients will have to have the procedure repeated once the results wear off.  However, having the procedure done every so often is much preferred to undergoing surgery which poses many more risks.



Most patients who are candidates for radiofrequency lesioning have already tried physical therapy and other pain management techniques.  Radiofrequency lesioning provides another step before resorting to surgery.  Surgery comes with many risks and oftentimes does not help relieve pain.  Even though radiofrequency lesioning is not a permanent fix since sensory nerves regenerate over time, it does offer relief without the risks of surgery.  It is important to note that patients who are taking blood thinners or who are not responsive to local anesthetic blocks will not be candidates for this procedure.

Radiofrequency lesioning works by interrupting the pain signals to the brain.  So even though no surgical procedure is done to correct a part of the body, the brain no longer processes the signals as pain, which allows the patient to have a better quality of life.  Radiofrequency lesioning is an outpatient procedure barring any complications.  About 80-90% of patients see a significant amount of relief after the procedure.

Risks of radiofrequency lesioning include pain, bleeding, allergic reactions, and on very rare occasions nerve damage.  For this reason, it is considered riskier than physical therapy and requires a consultation with a physician.  However, depending on the pain level of the patient, the reward often outweighs the risk and it can be a great first step towards a pain-free life.  As medicine continues to advance, patients suffering from pain have more and more options in lieu of surgery.  While radiofrequency lesioning may not be the best course of treatment for all pain patients, it is worth discussing with a physician as an alternative to surgery.  The Illinois Pain Institute offers radiofrequency lesioning and has seen great success for their patients.