A Systematic Review of Radiofrequency Treatment of the Ankle for the Management of Chronic Foot and Ankle Pain

  • Vwaire Orhurhu
  • Ivan Urits
  • Sebastian Orman
  • Omar Viswanath
  • Alaa Abd-ElsayedEmail author
Neuropathic Pain (A. Abd-Elsayed, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Neuropathic Pain



Chronic pain of the lower extremity remains challenging to manage. Radiofrequency treatment applies heat to nerve fibers with the goal of mitigating chronic pain conditions. The clinical efficacy has not yet been adequately established for pathologies of the ankle and foot. In this review paper, we report the use and efficacy of radiofrequency treatment applied to foot and ankle pain.

Recent Findings

PubMed and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register were searched (final search 30 March 2018) using the MeSH terms “radiofrequency ablation,” “neurolysis,” “radiofrequency therapy,” “pain syndrome,” “analgesia,” “plantar heel pain,” “plantar fascitis,” and “chronic pain” in the English literature. Of the 23 papers screened, 18 were further investigated for relevance. Our final search methodology yielded 15 studies that investigated the use of radiofrequency treatment at the ankle. Of these 15 studies, there were three randomized control trials, four prospective studies, three retrospective studies, and five case reports. The quality of selected publications was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias instrument.


The evidence from our studies suggests that radiofrequency treatment can be used safely for the management foot and ankle pain. The technique (continuous vs pulsatile), temperature, location of treatment, and duration of administration need more thorough evaluation. Randomized control trials are needed to establish the efficacy and safety profile of radiofrequency ablation and its long-term benefits in patients with chronic pain of the foot and ankle.


The evidence from our studies suggests that radiofrequency treatment can be used safely for the management foot and ankle pain. The technique (continuous vs pulsatile), temperature, location of treatment, and duration of administration need more thorough evaluation. Randomized control trials are needed to establish the efficacy and safety profile of radiofrequency ablation and its long-term benefits in patients with chronic pain of the foot and ankle.


Foot pain Ankle pain Radiofrequency ablation Analgesia 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Vwaire Orhurhu, Ivan Urits, Sebastian Orman, Omar Viswanath, and Alaa Abd-Elsayed declare no conflict of interest. Dr. Abd-Elsayed is a consultant for Innocoll, Ultimaxx Health, SpineLoop, Medtronic, Halyard, and Axsome.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vwaire Orhurhu
    • 1
  • Ivan Urits
    • 1
  • Sebastian Orman
    • 2
  • Omar Viswanath
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Alaa Abd-Elsayed
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of OrthopedicsGeorgetown University School of MedicineWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Valley Anesthesiology and Pain ConsultantsPhoenixUSA
  4. 4.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of Arizona College of MedicinePhoenixUSA
  5. 5.Department of AnesthesiologyCreighton University School of MedicineOmahaUSA
  6. 6.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA

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