Diseases & Conditions

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)


Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): is a means of interrupting pain signals with the use of an electrical current to heat up a small area of nerve tissue, thereby decreasing pain signals from that specific area.Clinical data shows that radiofrequency ablation can effectively provide lasting pain relief for people with chronic pain in the back and neck.


  • Please arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • First, you will meet with a Patient Access Representative (PAR) at the registration desk that will review your medical insurance, Emirates ID and perform your clinic registration. (Please bring your insurance card and Emirates ID).
  • You will then see a nurse who will obtain your medical history and perform a nursing physical assessment.
  • You will then meet with the pain physician for an evaluation and who will also explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. Your physician will obtain the consent for procedure and also will answer any questions that you may have.
  • Inform your pain physician: If you are taking any blood thinners (Abciximab or Integrelin, Aspirin, Aggrastat or Tirofiban, Alteplase or Actylise, Apixaban or Eliquis, Ardeparin or Indeparin, Argatroban or Arganova or Exembol, Bivalirudin or Angiomax, Coumadin or Warfarin, Dabigatran or Pradaxa, Dalteparin or Fragmin, Danaparoid or Orgaran, Eftifibatide or Integrelin, Fondaparinux or Arixtra, Heparin, Lovenox or Enoxaparin or Clexane, Plavix or Clopidogrel, Pletal or Cilostazol, Prasugrel or Effient, Rivaroxaban or Xarelto, Ticagrelor or Brilinta, etc). You will need to discontinue this medication prior to your procedure. Please note: Do not discontinue any medication without first consulting with your physician, who is prescribing these blood thinner medications.
    • If you are nursing or may possibly be pregnant.

    • Inform your physician if you have an active infection.

    • Your physician may order some blood tests, only if necessary.
  • You will be instructed, to bring a responsible adult with you to drive and accompany you home after the procedure.
  • Discontinue any pain medication four hours before the time of your scheduled procedure. Continue to take all other medications (when you are instructed) with a small sip of water before coming for the procedure. Bring all medications with you so that you can take it after your procedure (only take what is due or as instructed by your primary or referring physician).


  • You must fast at least six hours before the procedure. You may have clear liquids until two hours before the procedure, but do not eat anything within six hours of your appointment. If you have diabetes and use insulin, you must adjust the dosage of your insulin the day of the procedure as instructed.
  • You will meet with the Patient Access Representative (PAR) who will review your medical insurance, Emirates ID and registration. (Please bring our Emirates ID and insurance card).
  • You will then meet with a nurse who will review your medical history, medication and obtain pre-procedure vital signs.
  • Before the procedure, an intravenous (IV) line may be placed in a vein in your arm by a physician or nurse.
  • You will then be taken to the procedure room and be assisted to get on the procedure table.
  • A mild sedative may be given through your IV to relax you, if needed.


  • The procedure takes approximately 40 minutes.
  • You will be lying face down on the table. The procedure area in your back will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and then the area will be numbed using a local anesthetic.
  • Grounding pads will be applied to your skin.
  • The physician will use an X-ray machine to guide in the placement of a needle to the area in your back and a microelectrode is then inserted through the needle for the stimulation process.
  • During the procedure, your doctor will ask if you are able to feel a tingling sensation. The object of the stimulation process is to help the doctor determine if the electrode is in the optimal area for treatment.
  • Once the needle and electrode placement are verified, a small radiofrequency current is sent through the electrode into the surrounding tissue, causing the tissue to heat. You should not feel discomfort during the heating portion of the procedure.
  • A nurse will monitor your vital signs during your procedure.
  • A plaster will be placed over the injection site when the procedure is completed and the grounding pads are removed.


  • You will be transferred to the recovery room and will remain in the recovery room for about 20 – 30 minutes for observation. The length of stay in the recovery room may vary.
  • A nurse will check your vital signs.
  • Common side effects include, soreness of the back or neck at the point where the needle enters the skin; and some temporary numbness in the involved extremity.
  • When indicated, a nurse will give you a beverage and review your discharge instructions.
  • A responsible adult must accompany you home.
  • You will meet back with the Patient Access Representative (PAR) at the registration desk who will review your follow up appointment schedule.


  • Do not drive or operate machinery for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
  • You may resume your normal diet.
  • Do not engage in strenuous activity.
  • Do not take a bath, swim or use the hot tub for at least 48 hours; you may take a shower.
  • You may remove the plaster in the evening before you go to bed.
  • Smoking cessation is an important part of your rehabilitation and prevention of further deterioration of your joints and spine.


  • Leg muscle weakness or numbness. If you have any leg weakness or numbness, walk only with assistance, as your legs may buckle when trying to walk.
  • Mild discomfort on injection site when the local anesthetic wears off. This usually lasts two or three hours. If it occurs, apply ice to the area the day of the procedure and moist heat the day after the procedure if the discomfort persists.
  • Mild discomfort on injection site when the local anesthetic wears off. This usually lasts two or three hours. If it occurs, apply ice to the area the day of the procedure and moist heat the day after the procedure if the discomfort persists.
  • You may have increased pain for a few days after the injection. You should start noticing pain relief starting the third or fifth day or so. Diabetics may have shortterm elevation of blood sugars as a result of the steroid medication.


Contact your physician or come to the nearest Emergency Room if you have any of the problems stated below. Inform the Emergency Room staff that you just had a facet nerve block. The physician must evaluate you for the injection complication.

  • If the weakness and numbness of your arms, legs or feet does not resolve after eight hours.
  • Increased pain on injection site even after applying ice or moist heat pack.
  • Onset of new fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.
  • If your blood sugar or blood pressure is out of control.

© Copyright 2023 Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of the M42 group, and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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