Radiofrequency neurotomy

Radiofrequency neurotomy is a procedure to reduce back and neck pain. Heat generated by radio waves is used to target specific nerves and temporarily interfere with their ability to transmit pain signals.

The radio waves are delivered to the targeted nerves via needles inserted through the skin above your spine. Imaging scans are used during radiofrequency neurotomy to help the doctor position the needles precisely.

Radiofrequency neurotomy works better in some people than in others. Tests may be needed to determine if the nerves commonly targeted by radiofrequency neurotomy are the same nerves responsible for your pain.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Radiofrequency neurotomy is usually done by doctors who specialize in treating pain. The goal is to temporarily reduce chronic pain in the back or neck that hasn't been adequately relieved by other means, such as medications or physical therapy.

Radiofrequency neurotomy might be recommended to treat neck pain associated with whiplash. The procedure also might be recommended for back pain that:

  • Occurs on one or both sides of your lower back
  • Extends into the buttock region and thighs but not usually past the knee
  • Worsens if you twist or lift something
  • Improves when you're lying down
© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use