American Society of Anesthesiologists – Pain Medicine

View all recommendations from this society

Released January 21, 2014

Avoid irreversible interventions for non-cancer pain that carry significant costs and/or risks.

Irreversible interventions for non-cancer pain, such as peripheral chemical neurolytic blocks or peripheral radiofrequency ablation, should be avoided because they may carry significant long-term risks of weakness, numbness or increased pain.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Committee on Pain Medicine was charged with developing the “Top 5 List” on pain medicine for the Choosing Wisely® campaign. Committee members submitted potential recommendations for the campaign, and from this list voted on which recommendations should be included in the final “Top 5 List.” The literature was then searched to provide supporting evidence. The Committee communicated electronically and met in person during the development and approval process. Once approved by the Committee, the “Top 5 List” was reviewed by ASA’s Chair of the Section on Subspecialties, Vice President for Scientific Affairs, Executive Committee and Administrative Council. ASA’s “Top 5 List” for pain medicine has been endorsed by the American Pain Society.

ASA’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at


American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Chronic Pain Management, American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. Practice guidelines for chronic pain management: an updated report by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Chronic Pain Management and the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. Anesthesiology. 2010 Apr;112(4):810–33.

Jackson TP, Gaeta R. Neurolytic blocks revisited. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2008 Jan;12(1):7–13.

Mailis A, Furlan A. Sympathectomy for neuropathic pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2003; 2:CD002918. Update in Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(7):CD002918.