What is Cooled Radiofrequency Ablation?

Learn how cooled radiofrequency ablation can help you find relief—without surgery or pills.

Are you in pain? If so, you’re not alone. About 50 million Americans suffer from ongoing, chronic pain, which lasts more than 12 weeks. Chronic pain can derail your daily activities and take away from your quality of life.

Finding relief used to mean relying on pills or injections, but now there’s a new option. Cooled radiofrequency ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure that can help you find relief from pain without pills or surgery. 

To understand what cooled radiofrequency ablation is, you need to know how pain signals work. Nerves in your body transmit signals to and from your brain and the cells in your body. When your body experiences trauma, disease, or injury, these nerves transmit pain. Usually, when your injury heals, the pain signals stop. 

Chronic pain happens when the signals don’t stop and, in fact, keep firing for weeks or years. Interrupting these pain signals with cooled radiofrequency ablation is one way to stop the pain.

How cooled radiofrequency ablation works

As its name states, cooled radiofrequency ablation is a version of conventional radiofrequency ablation, which uses a small insulated needle to deliver a heated, high-frequency electrical current that damage the nerve tissue, so the pain signals can’t be delivered.

Cooled radiofrequency ablation follows the same procedure, but adds a cooling component by circulating water along with the heated radiofrequency current. 

Dr. Nichelle C. Renk uses the COOLIEF® Radiofrequency Treatment for this type of procedure. With a live X-ray machine to help her guide the needle to the correct nerve, she administers a local anesthetic and then delivers the radiofrequency current. The benefit of using COOLIEF is that Dr. Renk can target a larger treatment area, which makes the likelihood of damaging the problem nerve more likely. 

This treatment is a good choice for patients who are not ready for surgery, or who don’t want to use opioids to dull their pain. 

What to expect after your cooled radiofrequency procedure

The biggest benefit of cooled radiofrequency ablation is the minimal recovery time. Because the needle is small, Dr. Renk doesn’t need to make any surgical incisions. No overnight stay required!

The most important thing to expect after your treatment is a reduction of pain. You should feel results within a week or two, and experience improved mobility and pain relief for about a year after the procedure. 


For more information about cooled radiofrequency ablation and how it can reduce or eliminate your pain, call for an appointment with interventional pain specialist Dr. Nichelle C. Renk at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness in Anchorage, Alaska.

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