What to Expect During Radio-Frequency Neurotomy Treatment

Category: Blog

A radio-frequency neurotomy is a musculoskeletal medicine procedure that is done to cauterize or burn the small, short nerves that carry pain from the spinal facet joints to the spine, interrupting the pain pathway. Its purpose is to stop pain from the spinal joints (facets) for six months to one year.

What Happens?

X-ray equipment (fluoroscopy) is always used. The patient lies down and the to-be injected area is numbed with a local anesthetic (Novocain) and then two needles are directed to the target area. Electrodes are inserted into the needles and motor stimulation is done to ensure that the spinal nerve is not being stimulated. Radio waves are sent through the electrodes to create the heat in the needles.

Are There Side Effects?

You may experience a sensation similar to a sunburn following the procedure. This is normal and temporary. If severe, additional medications to treat this side effect are available. However, complications for this procedure are low.

How Will I Feel?

Although this is thought to be painful or uncomfortable, the painful part mainly resides in the positioning of the needles. Since the area is numbed, the actual burning itself is not painful. Post-procedure pain medication is usually provided to limit any discomfort.

Most people report feeling relief as soon as the post-procedure medication begins to wear off. So, the results of the procedure are quick.

This procedure doesn’t restrict you from your activities and daily life. However, if you choose to do sedation, we recommend not driving or operating machinery until 24 hours.


If you are interested in learning more of want to know if you are a candidate, we would love to see you for a consultation.

Contact PM&R at 315-565-2848.