Cervical radiofrequency ablation can be alternative surgery if you experience pain or headaches due to changes in the cervical spine.

The procedure is a way to damage nerves that transmit signals of pain to your brain. A doctor should assist you evaluate the risks and advantages associated with this process.

Read on to discover whether cervical radiofrequency ablations can aid in finding relief from pain.

Cervical radiofrequency ablations help treat neck pain, chronic neck pain, and headaches resulting from neck spine changes according to

2021 research

. Cervical spines are the highest segment of the spine. It includes the seven vertebrae that comprise the. The vertebrae are responsible for supporting your neck and head.

Modifications to the normal structure of the bones in and around the vertebrae could result in a particular type of headache called a cervicogenic migraine. It is estimated that 4.1 percent of people suffers from this kind of headache with an typical age of onset being around 43.

Cervicogenic headaches can be challenging for doctors to recognize. According to research conducted in 2018 that focuses on the following symptoms:

  • The pain is usually located on the other or the other side
  • the neck. There is a lack of range of motion the neck
  • Head pain that is worsened by neck movements
  • Head pain that gets worse when a doctor presses on the affected neck side.
  • discomfort that radiates down the shoulder, neck, or arm
  • headache that isn’t responding to the traditional medications for headaches such as ergotamines, triptans or indomethacin

A doctor may also do an specialized nerve block known as cervical block. If the headache gets better by this block, then it is possible that a cervicogenic headache has been occurring.

The cervical radiofrequency ablation procedure isn’t the primary method of treatment for a headache that is cervicogenic. Doctors often suggest using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). If they are not effective doctors may prescribe medication, such as baclofen, tizanidine, or tricyclic antidepressants.

Anesthetic nerve blocks could also be beneficial as per the study from earlier in the year. If these methods aren’t working doctors may suggest radiofrequency ablation.

Cervical radiofrequency ablation is the process of using heat to destroy nerve tissue to ensure that nerves can’t transmit pain signals to the brain. The essential steps of this procedure are:

  1. A physician injects an anesthetic local to make the skin numb.
  2. A doctor may put a needle in the vicinity of the facet joint. This is a bone connecting vertebrae. It is typically done under the guidance of an X-ray that is live, however certain doctors may employ CT (CT) and ultrasound to guide.
  3. An acupuncturist will stimulate your nerve after passing a small amount of electricity via the needle. This is likely to cause the muscle to move and could cause discomfort.
  4. A doctor can deliver radiofrequency energy through the needle in order to stop nerve impulses from sending out.
  5. The doctor can perform the same procedure again at a different location or at a different cervical spine.

The cervical radiofrequency ablation procedure is a non-invasive medical procedure. The procedure will be completed on the same day as you had the procedure.

You should discuss your medical history and the medications that you have taken with your physician prior to you undergo cervical ablation. If you’re taking blood thinners and your doctor will discuss the blood thinners you are prescribed to determine if you are able to discontinue them prior to the procedure.

It is not necessary to do anything extra in preparation for a cervical ablation. Your doctor should give you instructions on the day of your procedure , and for follow-up care.

The cost of cervical radiofrequency ablation varies according to your location as well as the doctor who performs the procedure, as well as how many levels the doctor will be injecting. One pain clinic has reported costs at $3,195 for one level cervical radiofrequency ablation, and one additional $1,457 to be injected.

Does nerve ablation cover under insurance?

Medicare provides cervical radiofrequency ablation if the patient meets their requirements. If Medicare covers a procedure other insurance companies usually will too.

You should consult your insurance provider first, as they’ll typically have their own rules prior to deciding whether they will cover your procedure.

Cervical radiofrequency ablation is not without potential dangers, but they are considered to be moderate to mild according to

2021 research


Because there are numerous blood vessels that line the neck area there is a chance that a doctor may accidentally strike the blood vessel with a needle , and result in bleeding. Image guidance reduces the chance of this occurring.

The most common side effects that can be a result of cervical radiofrequency ablation are:

  • dizziness
  • Pain or discomfort
  • poor coordination
  • Numbness in the skin

These symptoms rarely last for more than a couple of days or even weeks.

Certain people should not undergo radiofrequency ablation because of higher risks. This is especially true for those who are on anticoagulation therapy because of the possibility of bleeding.

Implantable cardiac devices shouldn’t also undergo ablations without a doctor’s consultation because radiofrequency can trigger an electric shock or disrupt the cardiac pacing.

Doctors look at some of the side potential effects that can be caused by cervical radiofrequency ablation, even though they’ve not been documented in more extensive studies. Possible effects include:

  • epidural hemorrhage
  • Infection
  • nerve damage
  • spinal cord injury to the spinal cord

A physician should utilize imaging to limit the risks. Without imaging, certain insurance companies might not be able to pay for the procedure because the risk is higher.

A different, but possible condition is called dropped head syndrome. This condition is characterized by extreme muscle weakness, which makes it more difficult to raise the head. This condition is only a problem for those with

Two cases reports

Have explained the potential impact.

Cervical radiofrequency ablation may not be permanent. As time passes the nerves can regenerate and discomfort can recur. The timeframe and probability that it will happen varies from person to person.


2021 research

The earlier study studies found that the mean duration of the effectiveness of radiofrequency ablation was previously reported at 42 months. Other reports show shorter time frames for the recurrence of pain, ranging between 6 and 14 months.

Cervical radiofrequency ablation may result in nerve irritation that starts the first time for

several days

after your procedure. Sometimes, doctors will prescribe steroids to reduce the irritation.

It is recommended that you expect your pain to improve within 3 to six weeks. If your pain does not improve then the treatment may not be successful in relieving your neck pain.

See your physician if are experiencing numbness or weakness in your shoulders or neck that lasts more than several days.

Doctors may suggest several radiofrequency ablation sessions to begin experiencing relief. More visits are recommended when the need radiofrequency ablation on greater than 2 levels in the cervical spine.

Doctors usually perform the ablation of two regions that are part of your spine one time. This ensures that they don’t damage too many nerves, which can affect the motor and sensation.

If you’ve undergone cervical radiofrequency ablation that provided relief from pain,

Chances are greater

A repeat procedure can ease the discomfort.

There isn’t any research that identifies a minimum number of times you can repeat the procedure. Certain studies have identified patients who’ve been through at minimum seven radiofrequency ablations.

It is recommended that the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine and the American Academy of Pain Medicine don’t recommend performing the same procedure more than once every year.

What’s next in the event that radiofrequency ablation fails to work?

If the cervical radiofrequency ablation does not perform, a physician may suggest these treatments:

  • medicine
  • Physical therapy
  • surgery

The doctor must carefully discuss all options’ risks and advantages together.

Cervical radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that can assist people suffering from specific types of neck pain get at the very least temporary relief from their pain. Insurance usually covers the procedure but may also allow for repeated treatments in the event that you first experienced relief from pain.

Your physician can help determine if this procedure might be the right option for you neck or headache discomfort.