A rhizotomy is an outpatient procedure that is minimally invasive and has a high success rate in relieving chronic pain as well as easing muscle tension caused by arthritis in the facet joints of your spine. The procedure has a quick recovery and can be repeated if necessary.
The procedure (also called Radiofrequency (RF) Rhizotomy) reduces or eliminates pain by disrupting the medial branch nerves carrying pain signals to your brain. It’s very important to discuss the risks and post-op expectations with your doctor.
During the procedure, the doctor uses a needle guided by a live X-Ray display, at the source of the irritated medial branch nerves. The needle is used by the doctor to insert a radiofrequency electrode. The electrode is tested with a weak electric jolt to verify the position. If the pain is verified by the electric current, the doctor uses the electrode to heat and cauterize the irritated nerve, effectively disabling the nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals to the brain. This can be performed in multiple locations.
Patients may experience an increase in pain the first-week post-op but report pain relief within about a month. The procedure takes about 30 minutes to perform and is more successful at pain relief than steroid block injections. The effects generally last for about 6 months.
Some of the common conditions a rhizotomy is used to treat are: