Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

Last year I had a treatment with radiofrequency to destroy a nerve causing chronic low back pain. It seemed to work fine at first but after six months I was right back where I started from. Should I have it done again?

Answer:

In the last 10 years, neurodestructive procedures using radiofrequency (RF) have gained in popularity. Studies don't support this level of enthusiasm yet. The combined results of many studies showed there is no long-term benefit in terms of pain relief.

New findings may change the way neuropathic pain is treated. For example, we used to think that pain signals were relayed from the body through the nerve to the brain. Treatments like RF destroy the nerve and therefore stop the painful signals from getting through.

But this may not be the case at all. It appears that the complex nervous system increases its own circuitry to make up for the loss of the one nerve. The end-result may be more pain than the patient started with.

Some surgeons suggest a second RF treatment is worth the effort. Six months of pain relief is better than none. Some patients do get the desired effects making it worth the effort. See your doctor and find out what are the best options for you at this time. Troels S. Jensen. Pulsed Radiofrequency: A Novel Treatment for Chronic Cervical Radicular Pain? [Editorial] In Pain. Vol. 127. No. 1-2. Pp. 3-4.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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