Nerve Ablation for Chronic Pain

Skip Navigation

Treatment Overview

Nerve ablation is a procedure that destroys nerves in an area of pain. Destroying nerves helps reduce or stop pain signals. This can help relieve long-term (chronic) pain. Ablation may be used for chronic low back pain, neck pain, and pain in some other areas of the body.

Nerve ablation may be done using heat, cold, or chemicals. You'll be awake for the procedure so you can give feedback to your doctor. You'll get a local anesthetic to numb the area. And you'll get medicine to help you relax.

During the procedure, your doctor may use X-rays or ultrasound to see where to put the hollow needle that will be used. Your doctor will place the needle under your skin and destroy the nerve tissue. You may feel buzzing or tingling.

What to Expect

The procedure usually takes an hour or less. But it may take longer. How long it takes will depend on where and how many nerves need to be removed or destroyed.

Why It Is Done

Ablation may be used when other methods of pain control haven't helped. It can work well for some types of pain.

How Well It Works

The amount of pain relief from ablation, and how long the relief lasts, varies by the cause of your pain and its location. It may not stop the pain for good. The destroyed nerve may grow back. If it does, the pain may come back. But you can have the procedure again if you need to.

Nerve ablation doesn't work for everyone.

Related Information


Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.