How does RFA work?

RFA is a simple, minimally invasive outpatient procedure. Your pain management specialist targets pain-causing nerves and uses thermal energy to interrupt the pain signals at their source. Local anesthesia and a mild sedative may be used to reduce discomfort during the procedure.


Target the Nerve

X-ray or ultrasound imaging helps guide a special probe to the target nerve. Electrodes stimulate nerves near the area to help determine the optimal treatment locations.


Disable the Nerve

The electrodes then send a small radiofrequency current into the surrounding tissue. This heats the tissue and disables the nerve so it stops sending pain signals.


Repeat for Multiple Pain Areas

Generally, one to four nerves are targeted in one procedure to maximize pain relief.

How does RFA fit my pain?

The RFA procedure can target multiple pain areas in a single treatment. So if your pain occurs in several parts of your body, RFA can address them all simultaneously. It works well for pain in your:

  • Neck
  • Shoulder
  • Back
  • Lower back
  • Hip
  • Leg
  • Knee
  • Foot

Real-world results

Studies show that more than 70% of patients treated with RFA experience relief—lasting anywhere from six to 12 months, and in some cases, years.1-3

70% experience lasting relief

Is it safe?

RFA treatment tends to be well tolerated and has few associated complications. After the procedure, you may experience a few days of discomfort around the procedure site(s). Over the next few weeks, your pain should subside, allowing you to return to the activities you enjoyed before the onset of your pain.

Is it effective?

Patients who respond well to RFA can expect pain relief that lasts from six to 18 months. The treated nerves will regenerate and, if the pain returns, the procedure can be repeated. Talk to your doctor to see if pain relief with Boston Scientific Radiofrequency Ablation is right for you. Your doctor can perform a simple in-office test to show if RFA may be a good option for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about RFA, or the process? We've got you covered.
Below are some of the top questions. See the full list of FAQs »
References: 1. MacVicar J, Borowczyk JM, MacVicar AM, Loughnan BM, Bogduk N. Cervical medial branch radiofrequency neurotomy in New Zealand. Pain Med. 2012;13(5):647-654. 2. Dreyfuss P, Halbrook B, Pauza K, Joshi A, McLarty J, Bogduk N. Efficacy and validity of radiofrequency neurotomy for chronic lumbar zygapophysial joint pain. Spine. 2000;25(10):1270-1277. 3. Govind J, King W, Bailey B, Bogduk N. Radiofrequency neurotomy for the treatment of third occipital headache. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003;74(1):88-93.

Results from clinical studies are not predictive of results in other studies. Results in other studies may vary.