Another option for chronic, debilitating pain that has not responded to standard medication and therapy is radiofrequency lesioning. It is particularly helpful for trigeminal neuralgia, brachial plexus avulsions where nerves in the upper body are injured sending severe pain into the arms, post-herpetic neuralgia, pain syndromes resulting from spinal cord injury, and intractable cancer pain.
To perform this procedure, we use radiofrequency energy to heat an electrode. Once the electrode becomes hot enough, we position it on the spot that is causing the problem. We hold it in place until it creates a lesion, which stops the nerve from carrying pain signals. Sometimes we need to repeat this procedure.
We can safely use this procedure in both the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nerves that serve your limbs and internal organs. It is typically an outpatient procedure done under local anesthesia.