What is Radio Frequency (RF) treatment

RF treatments are performed when injection treatments you have had for your pain have worked but only for a limited time, it is hoped the pain relief will be longer with the RF treatment.
The Radio Frequency machine produces an electrical current through a needle which destroys the outer lining of the nerve using heat. The process should not be painful.

Where is it done?

The procedure is carried out in the hospital, a letter with directions and instructions will be sent to you.

How is it done?

  • You will be asked to wear a hospital gown.
  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach for treatment on you back, or on your back for cervical (neck) joint treatment, on the X-ray table.
  • The area is cleaned with antiseptic.
  • A self adhesive foil plate will be placed onto your thigh. This is connected to the RF machine to make an electrical circuit.
  • X-ray pictures are taken throughout the procedure to help the Consultant direct the RF needle onto the affected nerve.
  • The Consultant will numb the area with an injection of local anaesthetic before putting in the RF needle.
  • Although you may experience some discomfort, twitching or tingling of the nerve during the procedure, this is a good sign. It helps the Consultant to know he is putting the RF needle exactly where it is needed.
  • Sedation is not normally used for this procedure, but if you feel anxious then you can discuss it with the Consultant prior to the procedure being carried out.

How long will I be in hospital?

Although the procedure itself only takes 30-45 minutes you will be asked to stay for between 1-2 hours before you are allowed home to make sure there are no problems. During this time you are offered a drink and a biscuit.

Can I eat and drink?

You may have a light early breakfast on the day of the admission.

Can I take my usual tablets?

Take your usual medications in the morning and bring your medications with you. (Patients taking warfarin will be given individual information)

Can I drive home?

For safety reasons you are asked that you have someone to pick you up, and not to drive on the day of the procedure, and also you may need someone with you for the rest of the day.

What can go wrong?

  • You may experience mild discomfort at the site of the injection; this should last no longer than 48hrs. In about one third of patients this can last for up to one week
  • Very rarely you may experience a numb leg or arm, which lasts only a few hours.
  • This procedure can cause a flare up of your pain which can last up to four weeks.
  • There may be a local allergic reaction to the local anaesthetic injection, which results in redness and itching. This is not serious although we need to know for future treatments.
  • It is normal to have some discomfort at the entry site of this procedure for