Radiofrequency denervation is a procedure where a needle sized probe is inserted through a puncture in the skin and positioned on the nerve supply to a facet joint.
The probe has an electrode on its tip that is connected to a radiofrequency generator. The radiofrequency generator produces a high-frequency alternating current that will cause tissue to heat up in the vicinity of the electrode. The current is such that it will cause a ‘burn’ to the nerve, hence causing interruption of nerve signals.
The procedure is usually performed on the nerve supply to a facet joint that has been shown to be painful by medial branch block. The thermal injury will heal and the nerve function will return. Typically this takes many months – sometimes up to 12. Sometimes when the nerves recover the pain does not return. If it does the procedure can be repeated.