The vanilloid receptor (VR) is a cation channel predominantly expressed on the peripheral processes and perikarya of nociceptive primary afferent neurons. Previous studies have shown that activation of the peripheral receptors by agonists such as capsaicin from hot peppers, or the much more potent resiniferatoxin, produces acute pain sensation which may be followed by desensitization. These inventors discovered that administration of VR agonists in the vicinity of neuronal cell bodies expressing the VR receptor can actually destroy those cells. To control pain and inflammatory disorders, the present invention provides methods and kits for the selective ablation of pain sensing neurons. For example, the intraganglionic administration of a VR agonist selectively ablates primary afferent nociceptive neurons without impairing other sensory modalities. This invention will greatly enhance the ability to control pain, inflammation and other conditions mediated by nociceptive neurons while sparing mental function and other sensations.