If facet joints in the mid-back or thoracic spine are responsible for your back or neck pain, thoracic facet radiofrequency neurotomy, or RF neurotomy, may deliver long-term pain relief. The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia serves patients in Kingsland and Brunswick, GA with effective pain relief treatments like rhizotomy.
What is Thoracic Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy?
Radiofrequency neurotomy or rhizotomy of the thoracic facets is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency waves to heat or ablate painful facet joints of the upper back for long-term pain relief. The purpose of this procedure is creating a lesion or burn on the medial nerve to impair its ability to send pain signals to the brain. Once the nerve is temporarily disabled, you will not feel pain from the facet joint.
How is Thoracic Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy Performed?
During this procedure, you will typically receive sedative medication to help you relax. You will lie on your stomach and your upper back will be numbed with anesthetic. Using fluoroscopy, or live x-ray images, your physician will carefully guide a very thin cannula to the targeted medial nerve. A radiofrequency electrode will be inserted through the cannula and, once it’s in position, your physician will deliver a very mild electrical current to the nerve. This will cause a muscle twitch and very brief pain that mimics the pain you normally experience. This is done to ensure the correct nerve is being targeted.
Anesthetic will then be delivered to the nerve to ensure a pain-free procedure. Radiofrequency heat will be delivered to the nerve to create a lesion that disrupts the nerve’s ability to send pain signals. Additional nerves may be treated at the same time.
Who is a Candidate for Radiofrequency Neurotomy?
You may be a good candidate for radiofrequency neurotomy of the thoracic facets if your pain has not responded to other treatments like medication, physical therapy, and steroid injections. Your physician may recommend this procedure if you have back pain that gets worse with twisting or lifting, improves when lying down, or spreads to the thighs and buttocks.
What is Recovery Like After Radiofrequency Neurotomy?
Before your procedure, it’s important to know what to expect after radiofrequency neurotomy in Brunswick. This procedure has a short recovery period. After your procedure, you will be able to return home but someone else must drive you. You will likely experience tenderness around the injection site that can be eased with ice packs.
Until the nerve is completely disabled, you will still feel the normal amount of pain. Your typical pain may even increase somewhat for the first few days after the procedure. It can take up to 30 days for the treated nerves to die.
How Long Do the Results of Radiofrequency Neurotomy Last?
For most people, thoracic facet radiofrequency neurotomy delivers pain relief for nine to 14 months. In about half of people, results last for about two years. The nerves will slowly regenerate. While some people do not need repeated treatment, most require another procedure.
Radiofrequency neurotomy or rhizotomy can deliver long-term pain relief with a minimially invasive procedure performed on an outpatient basis. Contact the Spine Center of Southeast Georgia if you are dealing with chronic back pain in Kingsland or Brunswick to find out if you can benefit from RF neurotomy.