Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablations

What is a Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation?

Lower back pain is a common problem for many people. For some, the lumbar facet joint might be the source of their condition. If pain persists, then it might help to get a lumbar radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

A lumbar radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that treats lower back, hip, buttock, and groin pain. RFA uses an electrical current to disrupt nerve function. The pain specialist will target the lumbar medial branch nerve to stop the transmission of pain signals. As a result, lower back pain caused by lumbar facet joints is reduced. The procedure is safe, with only minimal complications.

When a lumbar facet joint is injured, you will begin to develop lumbar facet pain. It will result in the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Hip pain
  • Pain in the groin
  • Stiffness

By blocking pain signals, lumbar radiofrequency ablation RFA can relieve patients of these symptoms.

The steps for lumbar radiofrequency ablation are as followed:

  • Step 1. To prepare, you will have to avoid eating anything six hours before the procedure. Only drink clear liquids.
  • Step 2. Once you are ready to start, the doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the skin. You will be awake during the procedure.
  • Step 3. The doctor will then insert a small needle near the joint and use an X-ray to guide them. They will stimulate the nerve to find the optimal area. You may feel a tingling sensation or pain.
  • Step 4. When the needle is placed correctly, a small radiofrequency current gets sent to heat the tissue. Do not worry; you will not feel any discomfort during this part of the process.

Afterward, you are to be monitored in the recovery room for about 30 minutes. The injection site will get bandaged. A nurse will arrive to provide you with discharge instructions.

You may feel sore for up to 4 days after the procedure. Your back may experience discomfort for a couple of weeks. It is crucial to have someone drive you home and monitor you for 24 hours. It may take several days for you to heal. During your recovery, you are advised not to:

  • Operate machinery for 24 hours.
  • Engage in intense activities for a few days.
  • Take a bath for 1-2 days after the ablation; showers are permitted.

Usually, it will take 2-3 weeks until you experience pain relief. It usually lasts anywhere from 6 months to a year. The length of time varies for each individual. You will need to make follow-up appointments so the doctor can measure if the treatment is working. The nerves do regenerate, but you will be able to return for more treatment.

If you are suffering from lower back pain, do not let it affect your daily life. To learn if lumbar radiofrequency ablation is right for you, contact us at The Pain Center San Diego today.


Our entire practice revolves around helping patients feel better. Pain is a fact of life until it interferes with the joys of living. Sandra Thompson, MD, and The Pain Center San Diego have innovative and comprehensive solutions to all forms of discomfort.

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San Diego Fax: (858) 437-6702

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4033 3rd Avenue, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92103


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We are a group of pain management experts dedicated to helping patients live life better.

Dr. Thompson believes that life is to be enjoyed and that every effort should be made to minimize or eliminate pain. She offers a wide range of pain management alternatives.



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Pain Treatments


San Diego Phone: (619) 578-3740

San Diego Fax: (858) 437-6702

Our Location:

  • 4033 3rd Avenue, Suite 200 San Diego, CA 92103