Radiofrequency (Rhizotomy)

What Is It?

A rhizotomy blocks pain signals from the nerves to the brain. Sufferers of spondylolisthesis, lumbar facet syndrome, spondylosis, whiplash, and chronic low back pain may benefit from this procedure. Your doctor may recommend this treatment after injections have been attempted, or if the exact source of your pain has been identified.

What to Expect

During the procedure, patients are positioned on the stomach. The injection site is cleansed and a local anesthetic is used. The physician will insert a temperature monitoring probe alongside the affected nerves. The electrode is then heated to cauterize the nerve ending, which then blocks the pain signals from reaching the brain. During the procedure, your doctor may ask you where you feel sensation to determine needle placement. This will need to be performed twice, as each joint contains two nerves.

How to Prepare

The procedure can be performed without sedation. Your doctor may also recommend oral or intravenous sedation in some instances. If you choose sedation, fast for at least six hours before the procedure. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking before your rhizotomy, especially if any of these medications are blood thinners.

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