Radiofrequency denervation: Targeted pain relief

Written by: Dr Andrzej Krol
Edited by: Carlota Pano

Radiofrequency denervation is a novel minimally invasive treatment that can block the nerves that are involved in pain, providing relief for patients and improving quality of life.


Here to provide an expert insight into radiofrequency denervation, including its safety, benefits and results, is Dr Andrzej Krol, renowned consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine based in London.



Why might I need radiofrequency denervation?


Radiofrequency denervation is a pain management technique used for the targeted treatment of central neck pain or back pain caused by spine arthritis or injury to the facet joints. The facet joints, found on each side of the spine, are the small set of joints that connect each of the vertebrae and provide flexibility and stability to the body.


You may be recommended radiofrequency denervation if other treatments, such as medication or physiotherapy, have failed to relieve your pain. You will first need to have a medial branch block before undergoing radiofrequency denervation.


It is important to know, however, that radiofrequency denervation is not suitable for everyone. This is the case, for example, if you have a pacemaker.


How does it work? What happens during a radiofrequency denervation procedure?


Radiofrequency denervation uses heat generated by radiofrequency waves to block the nerves around the facet joints in the neck or back that are involved in pain. These nerves are called the medial branch nerves.


During the procedure, a radiofrequency needle will be inserted into the affected area of the neck or back under the guidance of a fluoroscope. Radiofrequency waves will then pass through the needle. These waves will heat the tip of the needle and a small area of the medial nerve branch tissue, thus destroying the nerve endings that transmit pain signals from the joint to the brain.


You will be given a local anaesthetic, and a steroid in some cases, to numb the treated area and help with any discomfort.


Is radiofrequency denervation safe?


Radiofrequency denervation is generally considered a safe and effective treatment. Most patients are able to go home one or three hours after the procedure.


What are the benefits of radiofrequency denervation?


Radiofrequency denervation provides long-lasting relief from chronic neck or back pain caused by arthritis or facet joint injury, which improves mobility and quality of life. It is also a minimally invasive treatment.


And the possible disadvantages?


Like with any treatment, there are potential risks involved with radiofrequency denervation, including bleeding, nerve damage, infection, or allergy to the anaesthesia.


Some patients may also experience temporary pain at the site of injection for the first two weeks following the procedure, but this pain usually lessens with time and can be managed with painkillers if needed.


When are results visible, and how long does the pain relief last for?


Results vary from patient to patient. Some patients may experience immediate pain relief, whereas others may need several weeks to experience the full benefits of the treatment.


The pain relief can last from several months to even years, depending on the underlying cause of each patient’s pain.



Dr Andrzej Krol is a distinguished consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine with over 30 years’ experience.


If you are living with (chronic) neck or back pain, do not hesitate to book an appointment with Dr Krol via his Top Doctors profile today to receive expert treatment and assessment.

By Dr Andrzej Krol
Pain medicine

Dr Andrzej Krol is a distinguished consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine based in London who specialises in ultrasound-guided pain interventions and radiofrequency procedures for the management of chronic, acute and transitional pain, including cancer pain. With a multimodal approach to pain management, Dr Krol provides ultrasound diagnostics of nerve injury and radiofrequency denervation for major joint pain (shoulder, hip, knee) alongside spinal injections, pulsed-radiofrequency, minimally invasive neuromodulation modalities and peripheral nerve treatment. He is highly proficient in regional and vascular anaesthesia, and also holds a particular interest in the safety of pain interventions.

Dr Krol originally qualified from Medical School in Poland in 1991. He completed training in anaesthetics and intensive care in 1998 before going on to become a diplomate of the European Academy of Anaesthesiology in 2000. Meanwhile, Dr Krol also trained in palliative medicine and set up a palliative hospice and chronic pain service in Warsaw, where he served as regional advisor in palliative medicine for four years. He later went on to obtain the distinguished European Diploma of Pain Medicine from the The European Society of Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy. In the UK, Dr Krol accomplished a prestigious clinical pain fellowship at St George’s Hospital in 2005, where he was later appointed as a consultant.

As a prominent figure in his specialty, Dr Krol has also served in a number of senior positions throughout his leading career. Notably, he has been the President of the Interventional Section of the Polish Association for the Study of Pain and a founding member of the Polish Neuromodulation Society. He is, at present, a scientific committee member for the European Society of Regional Anaesthesia, as well as the author of more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Since 1998, Dr Krol also works as a vascular anaesthetist, supporting research and development of intra and postoperative guidelines and protocols.

Dr Krol currently sees patients privately at Spire Anthony’s Hospital and at Parkside Private Hospital. He performs more than 300 interventional pain procedures each year, with safe and effective care.

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