Radiofrequency Ablation for Facet-Mediated Low Back Pain: Current Knowledge and Limitations of the Evidence

  • Anna Coles
  • Pradeep Suri
  • Sean Rundell
  • Isuta Nishio
  • Lubdha Shah
  • Christopher Standaert
  • Janna Friedly
Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation (J Friedly, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation


Purpose of review

The purpose of this paper is to review the evidence for radiofrequency ablation (RFA) as a treatment modality for facet-mediated low back pain. This review also evaluates gaps in evidence for RFA including optimal eligibility criteria and technique and safety concerns.

Recent findings

There is a lack of high quality evidence supporting RFA for facet-mediated low back pain. Six randomized control studies and multiple observational studies have been carried out, with mixed results for the efficacy of RFA for pain relief. There is a high rate of variability in the eligibility criteria and technique used for RFA and little evidence to support the appropriate inclusion and procedure. There remain safety questions about RFA, especially with regard to long-term effects of denervating the multifidus muscle.


Radiofrequency ablation is an interventional technique performed with the goal of reducing facet-mediated low back pain, but evidence to support it as an effective treatment modality is lacking.


Low back pain Zygapophyseal joint Pain management Treatment outcome 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Coles
    • 1
  • Pradeep Suri
    • 1
  • Sean Rundell
    • 1
  • Isuta Nishio
    • 1
  • Lubdha Shah
    • 1
  • Christopher Standaert
    • 2
  • Janna Friedly
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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