The application of electrical radio frequency (RF) signals to nerve tissue using an RF lesion generator and RF electrodes inserted into the tissue is an established technique. The technique is used to treat pain, movement and mood disorders.
In clinical practice, lesions with radio frequency (RF) current are most often used to treat pain syndromes. Although it is believed that the generation of heat that causes "thermocoagulation" of the nerve tissue is responsible for the clinical outcome, a newer modality of RF application known as pulsed radio frequency (PRF) provides the RF current, without generating destructive amounts of heat.
Two fundamentally different techniques are used:
1) pulsed radio frequency (PRF) therapy:
This is a neuromodulation therapy. The nerve is treated with high electrical energy at body temperature, which changes the conduction of pain. This method, in which the nerve is not damaged, is mainly used for neuropathic pain. This treatment is usually combined with drug treatment of the nerve root.
2) Continuous radiofrequency (CRF) neurolysis:
This technique is neurodestructive, i.e. the pain-conducting nerve is treated with targeted heat. As a result, a long-lasting reduction in pain can be achieved in the area to which the nerve spreads.
This treatment cannot be applied to all nerves. In most cases, sensory nerves are treated. Otherwise, complications such as muscle weakness or even paralysis could occur.