Radiofrequency therapy, an aid for people with chronic pain

What is radiofrequency therapy?

Radiofrequency therapy is a proven, low-risk option for managing chronic pain. Pain is considered chronic when it lasts longer than 12 weeks.

During the procedure, a high-frequency electrical current is applied through a cannula or needle to the nerve where the pain transmission is to be blocked.

How does radiofrequency therapy work?

This pain treatment therapy interrupts the transmission of pain through the nerves that reach the brain. If we compare pain to electricity, it is as if we were to lower the voltage of the current from 220 volts to 125 volts through an electric cable or switch the switch from on to off, depending on the modality of the radiofrequency therapy.

There are two modalities: Thermal Radiofrequency which creates a heat lesion in the chosen nerve (neurolysis), preventing the passage of painful nerve stimuli and Pulsed Radiofrequency which manages, without nerve injury, to modulate the passage of painful signals (neuromodulation).

This is achieved with a radiofrequency generator device that is connected to special electrodes needles that emit a current of low energy and high frequency.

In what pathologies is it indicated?

The application of radiofrequency is extensive. We can use it in migraines, trigeminal neuralgia, cervical pain, lumbar pain, sciatica and pain in small and large joints (shoulder, knee, hip), rhizoatrosis, trochanteritis, plantar fasciitis, among other pathologies.

Other applications are radiculopathies that persist after spinal surgery (“failed back surgery syndrome”) and pain due to nerve injury after an accident or surgery.

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How is the procedure performed?

The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and sedation, being an outpatient technique in most cases.

The technique, in expert hands and following safety advice, has few side effects. The procedure has to be performed with image control (ultrasound or radiological) to have an accurate view of the area where the cannula is introduced.

How long will the pain relief last?

The results are not definitive in all cases, but they are minimally invasive techniques that can be repeated. This improves the quality of life of patients and reduces the excessive use of pain medication.