Current Issue - May/June 2011 - Vol 14 Issue 3


  1. 2011;14;301-304Pulsed Radiofrequency of the Sural Nerve for the Treatment of Chronic Ankle Pain
    Case Report
    Lyudmil Todorov, MD.

BACKGROUND: The application of radiofrequency (RF) has been successfully used in the treatment of chronic pain conditions, including facet arthropathy, sacroiliac joint pain, groin pain, radicular pain, cervicogenic headaches, and phantom limb pain. Due to the neurodestructive effect of continuous RF ablation and possible deafferentation sequelae, only pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) has been applied to peripheral sensory nerves. There are no previous reports of  successful PRF application to the sural nerve.

OBJECTIVES: To report on the successful use of PRF to the sural nerve for the treatment of ankle pain. To discuss current theories on the mechanism by which PRF produces pain relief.

METHODS: The report presented here describes the case of a 39-year old patient who sustained injury to her ankle. The patient was complaining of pain in the distribution of the sural nerve, which was confirmed by electrodiagnostic studies. The pain did not respond to oral and topical analgesics. The patient had short-term relief with a sural block with bupivacaine and triamcinolone. The patient then underwent PRF application to the right sural nerve for 240 seconds at 45 volts.

RESULTS: The patient reported complete relief. There was no pain recurrence 5 months after the procedure.

LIMITATIONS: This report describes a single case report.

CONCLUSIONS: It is conceivable that PRF may provide long-term pain relief in cases of sural nerve injury. The exact mechanism  of the antinociceptive effect is still unknown. Possible mechanisms include  changes in molecular structure by the electric field, early gene expression, stimulation of descending inhibitory pathways, and transient inhibition of excitatory transmission.