Radiofrequency ablation for chronic arthritis-related back pain

Radiofrequency ablation, where heat energy destroys or stuns the nerves of a painful joint, is a developing therapy for chronic arthritis-related back pain.

In the right situation, this approach may be welcome -- though usually not permanent -- relief, according to the October issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

The best candidates for this procedure are those who have arthritis that's primarily confined to the spinal area, and possibly the upper buttock region. In an outpatient procedure, doctors apply radiofrequency energy either continuously for one to two minutes to destroy the pain-causing nerve tissue; or in pulses to stun the nerves.

The majority of people who opt for continuous radiofrequency treatment experience a greater than 50 percent pain reduction. The relief lasts an average of six to nine months. It's not clear why pain often returns, but doctors suspect that the nerves reconnect over time. The procedure can be repeated. However, patients may experience diminishing benefits with repeated treatments.

Pulsed radiofrequency may be as effective in pain relief as the continuous method, but the relief generally does not last as long. In theory, since the tissue is stunned and not destroyed, the pulsed treatment is safer and not expected to offer diminishing returns when repeated.

Definitive research has not accurately quantified success rates. But for patients with arthritis-related back pain that hasn't responded to other treatments, radiofrequency ablation is an option.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Study reveals nerve changes linked to pain and urinary frequency in recurrent UTI sufferers