I'm scheduled to have a procedure called radiofrequency neurotomy for chronic low back pain. The doctor explained the nerve is going to be heated up until it's damaged and can no longer send pain messages to the brain. Won't it be painful to heat a nerve that high?

It would be if your doctor didn't use a local anesthetic first to the nerve before applying the heat. The doctor uses a special kind of X-ray called fluoroscopy to place the needle-shaped probe at a specific nerve.

Radiofrequency energy is supplied through the tip of the probe for about 70 seconds. The temperature of the tissue gets up to about 175 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's done properly, you shouldn't feel a thing.

Pain relief from the treatment is immediate but often doesn't last forever. For many patients, the pain comes back later, but the months of pain relief is generally worth it.