Peripheral nerve ablation for limb pain

Status: Decision completed

Policy context

Peripheral nerve ablation is one of many available treatments for patients with limb pain. This topic was selected based on high concerns for the safety and efficacy of the procedure and medium/high concern for cost.

Primary criteria ranking

  • Safety = High
  • Efficacy = High
  • Cost = Medium/High

Assessment timeline

  • Draft key questions published: July 26, 2018
  • Public comment period: July 27 to August 9, 2018
  • Final key questions published: September 6, 2018
  • Draft report published: November 1, 2018
  • Public comment period: November 1 to November 30, 2018
  • Final report published: December 18, 2018
  • HTCC public meeting: January 18, 2019


Severe limb pain can markedly limit quality of life if it is not effectively managed. Chronic limb pain can occur in a joint, such as the hip, shoulder or knee and is most often due to osteoarthritis. Other causes of chronic limb pain include traumatic injury, rheumatoid arthritis, postoperative pain syndromes, or soft tissue dysfunction (muscles, tendons, ligaments). Standard treatments for chronic limb pain include physical activity, weight loss, medications (prescription drugs and over-the-counter pain relievers), physical therapy, alternative therapies (e.g., massage, acupuncture), and surgery. Treatments for osteoarthritis aim to reduce symptoms and improve function, and most treatments do not modify the natural history or progression of the disease.