Radiofrequency Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia

RadioFrequency Ablation or RFA is a minimally invasive non surgical technique that directs high-frequency energy into targeted areas of the body, in the case of chronic pain - nerves.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition affecting the trigeminal nerve in the face. The trigeminal nerve carries sensation from the face to the brain. Symptoms range from mild to severe facial pain, often triggered by chewing, speaking or brushing the teeth.

In RFA for trigeminal neuralgia, the radiofrequency energy targets the trigeminal nerve, altering the brain’s ability to transmit pain signals and thereby reduced pain. This is a common percutaneous procedure used to treat trigeminal neuralgia, especially so in elderly patients and high risk groups, who cannot undergo surgery.

To see how the patient responds, the first line of treatment for trigeminal neuralgia prescribed by a pain management doctor is medication. If the person is suffering from severe pain in the face and does not show any improvement with the medication or the medication produces side-effects, then the pain management doctor may recommend the patient to undergo radiofrequency treatment.

The procedure is performed under fluoro guidance using local anaesthesia. The process includes:

How is the procedure performed?

The procedure is performed under fluoro guidance using local anaesthesia. The process includes:

  • After numbing with local anaesthesia, the interventional pain management doctor carefully places a needle through the corner of the mouth to reach the target area for trigeminal nerve at the base of the skull.
  • Then, after the x-rays confirm that the needle is in correct position, the doctor stimulates the nerve, and asks if the patient is correctly feeling the stimulus at the pain site.
  • This particular step ensures that the doctor hits the correct position.
  • Then, after giving more local anaesthesia, the doctor uses radiofrequency energy to ablate the nerve, which induces a slight feeling of numbness in the pain area, thereby relieving the pain.