BACKGROUND:: An alternative technique involving a "distal approach" can be used for lumbar medial branch radiofrequency denervation (LMBRFD). We described and assessed this technique by comparing it with a conventional tunnel vision approach in a prospective randomized trial. METHODS:: Eighty-two patients underwent LMBRFD by a distal (n = 41) or a tunnel vision approach (n = 41). The primary end point was a comparison of the mean difference in the change of 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS) scores of low back pain from entry to the scores at 1 month (NRS at baseline - NRS at 1 month) and at 6 months (NRS at baseline - NRS at 6 months) between the distal approach group and the tunnel vision approach group. The secondary end points were a change of NRS and the Oswestry disability index over time. RESULTS:: Thirty-four patients in each group had complete time courses. There were no statistically significant differences in the change of NRS scores between the groups at 1 month (corrected P = 0.19; 97.5% 2-sided confidence interval [CI], -1.37 to 0.37) and 6 months (corrected P = 0.53; 97.5% CI, -1.36 to 0.77). Patients in both groups showed a statistically significant reduction in NRS and Oswestry disability index scores from baseline to that of the scores at 1 and 6 months (all P < 0.0001, Bonferroni corrected). The procedure-related pain score was significantly lower in the distal approach group (P = 0.001; 99% CI, -2.00 to -0.23). CONCLUSIONS:: Patients who underwent LMBRFD by the tunnel vision or distal approaches showed significant pain relief at the 6-month follow-up. Less periprocedural pain was reported in the distal approach group. We consider that the distal approach provides an improved option for LMBRFD.