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What spine conditions can RFA treat?

Patients dealing with spine conditions often explore a multitude of treatment options in their quest for relief. One such option is radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a minimally invasive procedure that provides pain relief.  In this article, we’ll explore the spine conditions RFA can treat and how it differs from other procedures so you make an informed decision about treatment.

What is RFA?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure that targets and disrupts specific nerves or tissue responsible for transmitting pain signals in the spine. It employs heat generated by radiofrequency waves to alleviate chronic pain associated with various spinal conditions.

During this treatment, an RFA probe, a thin, needle-like device is inserted into the affected spine area under fluoroscopic guidance. This probe, also known as an electrode or cannula, delivers the radiofrequency energy to the targeted nerves or tissue, generating heat to disrupt their ability to transmit pain signals.

Facet Joint Pain

Facet joints are small joints in the back of the spine that help stabilise the vertebrae and facilitate movement. Facet joint pain can result from arthritis or degenerative changes, leading to localised back pain that may radiate into the buttocks or thighs. 

RFA can effectively treat facet joint pain by targeting the sensory nerves supplying these joints and disrupting their ability to transmit pain signals.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac (SI) joints connect the sacrum to the iliac bones of the pelvis. Dysfunction or inflammation of the SI joints can cause lower back pain that may radiate into the buttocks or legs. 

RFA can alleviate sacroiliac joint dysfunction by targeting the sensory nerves supplying these joints and reducing pain signal transmission.

Medial Branch Neurotomy

Medial branch neurotomy, or medial branch RFA, involves selectively targeting the medial branches, small nerve branches that communicate pain signals from the facet joints to the brain. 

By disrupting these nerves, RFA can relieve facet joint pain, helping patients manage their symptoms and improve mobility.


Radiculopathy refers to pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness that spreads along the path of a compressed or irritated spinal nerve root. Radiculopathy may be due to conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis, which can impact a person’s daily activities and quality of life. 

RFA treats radiculopathy by targeting the sensory nerves that send pain signals from the affected nerve roots, providing much-needed relief for patients.

RFA vs Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Surgery

While RFA offers a minimally invasive approach to managing spine conditions, it’s essential to understand how it compares to other treatment options, such as minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. 

RFA focuses on targeting specific nerves or tissue to alleviate pain, but minimally invasive endoscopic surgery is aimed at addressing the underlying structural abnormalities in the spine, such as spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. 

The choice between RFA and minimally invasive endoscopic surgery depends on the patient’s diagnosis, treatment goals, and overall health and should be discussed with a spine specialist.

Is RFA a suitable treatment for your spine condition?

The first step in determining whether RFA can treat your spine condition is to consult a spine specialist. During your consultation, discuss your symptoms, medical history, previous treatments, and treatment goals with your spine specialist. This information will help guide the decision-making process and determine whether RFA is a suitable treatment option for you.

RFA is typically considered suitable for spine conditions that involve nerve irritation or inflammation. However, RFA may not be ideal for all spine conditions or all patients. The underlying cause of pain, the location and severity of the condition, and medical history must be considered when determining the suitability of RFA.

Consult a Spine Specialist in Singapore

If you’re experiencing chronic pain associated with a spine condition and considering treatment options such as RFA, you must consult a spine specialist in Singapore who can evaluate your condition and recommend the most appropriate course of action. 

At Achieve Spine and Orthopaedic Centre, our team of experienced spine specialists is dedicated to providing personalised care to help you achieve optimal spine health and improve your quality of life. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation for your spine condition.

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