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What is Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation?

Radiofrequency (RF) thermocoagulation is a safe, proven means of interrupting pain signals. Radiofrequency current is used to heat up a small volume of nerve tissue, thereby interrupting pain signals from that particular area. Radiofrequency techniques have been available for treating various pain disorders since the early 1970s. Since the 1980s physicians specializing in chronic pain diagnosis and treatment have found an increasing number of applications for this established technology.

Some more common medical conditions which respond to radiofrequency techniques include chronic low back pain, thoracic spine pain, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

Traditional techniques to destroy painful nerves have used chemicals such as phenol or alcohol. Unfortunately, these techniques have significant side effects due to the limited ability to control the spread of these liquids. Radiofrequency needles, accurately placed with the aid of fluoroscopic X-ray machines, generate local heat at the tip when the electrical current is applied, which can be precisely controlled to thermocoagulation painful nerves with minimal tissue damage. The procedures can be performed with little trauma using local anesthesia and intravenous sedation.

What Are The Benefits Of Radiofrequency Treatments?

Radiofrequency treatments for pain in Scottsdale, AZ at Southwest Spine & Sports offer a number of great benefits to improve quality of life, including:

  • Reduces a wide variety of pain and discomfort
  • Improves overall function
  • No surgery or medications
  • Little to no risk of side effects
  • Quick and easy outpatient procedure
  • Recovery time is short

What Should I Expect Following Radiofrequency Treatments?

After your radiofrequency thermocoagulation procedure is complete, you will be held under supervision as the local anesthesia and sedation wear off and to check for any adverse reactions. Someone will need to drive you home from the Southwest Spine and Sports facility, and you will likely be asked to rest and avoid any strenuous activities for at least a day or two. You may still feel some discomfort at the treatment site(s) for a few days as the nerves die off. Full pain relief could take a couple of weeks to notice.

What if the pain relief doesn’t last?

Radiofrequency treatment of tissue usually blocks pain signals for a prolonged period of time. However, the human body may regenerate pain pathways over time. It is not unusual that the procedure may need to be repeated at some point in the future.

Am I a Candidate for Radiofrequency Treatments?

The best candidates for radiofrequency pain treatments at Southwest Spine and Sports are those who have chronic back or spine pain that has thus far been largely resistant to other forms of pain management. By using radiofrequency thermocoagulation, our Scottsdale, AZ team can treat the pathways that cause pain without invasive and risky surgery. This procedure may also be a great option for those who wish to improve function and activity levels as well as those who would like to stop using over-the-counter or prescription pain pills.

What are the risks of radiofrequency thermocoagulation?

As with any procedure, there are some inherent risks, although most of these are minimal. Common risks include but are not limited to bruising, bleeding, headaches, irritation of a nerve or nerve injury, including paralysis, numbness, and weakness. Risks also include infection or reactions to the medications which may cause breathing difficulties and cardiac difficulties which may lead to death. Serious risks and complications are extremely rare, however.

Radiofrequency Treatments FAQs

You will need to arrange for a ride home, so be sure to have this arranged before your appointment. Following your radiofrequency treatments, we recommend avoiding high-impact exercise or activities for an entire day following your treatment. Hydration will be key for your recovery as your muscles adjust to the treatment.

The goal of your radiofrequency treatments is to end pain in certain muscular regions. However, there are some cases in which patients do not receive the pain relief they want from just one treatment. In this case, our providers at SWSS will work with you to establish more treatment after 2-3 weeks have elapsed.

Ultimately, this procedure yields amazing pain relief results. However, there can be some time between treatments before you get full relief from your symptoms. You may even notice a spike in pain as your nerves are stimulated after treatment, but you should notice significant improvements over the next 3 weeks.

Yes, radiofrequency treatment is generally considered safe and is performed by the experienced medical team at Southwest Spine & Sports. Common side effects are minimal but may include temporary discomfort or bruising at the injection site.

The duration of pain relief varies from person to person, but many patients experience significant relief for 6 to 12 months. Periodic treatments at Southwest Spine & Sports can be arranged to maintain long-term benefits.

Candidates for radiofrequency treatment are typically those who have chronic back or spine pain and haven’t found sufficient relief from other treatments. A consultation at Southwest Spine & Sports will help determine if this treatment is suitable for your specific condition.

  • Stop taking all aspirin, aspirin products, and all nonsteroidal – except Celebrex- 5 days before the procedure.
  • If you have questions regarding these types of products or their discontinuation, you should discuss this with one of our staff
  • If you take fish oil or Vitamin E supplementation, please stop these 5 days before the injection.
  • Do not eat for 6 hours or drink 2 hours before the procedure. You may take routine a.m. medications with a small amount of water
  • For your safety, you must have a responsible adult to drive you home. Failure to have a driver may result in the cancellation of your procedure. Taxis are not permitted.

Radiofrequency treatments are used to reduce pain. The nerve which is responsible for the pain signals is heated up by radio waves, which in turn decreases pain signals from that specific area.

Radiofrequency Treatment Blogs


Not much can shake up Vinceanne, not even scoliosis. But when the pain became unbearable, she turned to Southwest Spine. & Sports.

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