Re: Killing nerves to eliminate back pain
Radiofrequency ablation is performed to destroy the median nerves that supply the facet joints in the spine. This procedure is done in the same way as an epidural steroid injection. The doctor does it under fluoroscopy so he can see where the needle is being placed. There is an electrode that is attached at the tip of the needle. When the doctor confirms that this probe is located exactly where he wants it, that is, on the nerve that is causing the pain and not on anything else, a current is supplied and it uses heat to "deactivate" the nerve tissue, which deadens the pain signal.
Of course you will already have had the tests to determine which area is the pain generator. There are two nerves that lead to the facet joint so two needles will be needed for the procedure. Any other nerves should not be affected in the least.
After the procedure, the hope is that with rest, physical therapy to make the tissue surrounding the facet joint stronger and the desensitization of the nerve, the pain will stay away.