Radiofrequency Neurotomy of the Lumbar Facets

This procedure uses heat from radio waves to treat painful facet joints in your lower back. It eases pain that isn’t helped by medications or physical therapy. In preparation for the procedure, you lie on your stomach and are given mild sedative to relax you. After the skin and tissue of your lower back is numbed, the physician guides a tube called a “cannula” to your spine. The physician then inserts a needle and carefully guides it to the medial branch nerves. A fluoroscope (a video x-ray) is used to help guide the tube to the medial branch nerves, the tiny nerves that carry pain signals from your facet joints to your brain. Next the physician pushes an electrode through the cannula and down to these nerves. He tests its position with a weak jolt of energy. If this recreates your pain, the physician knows it is in the right place.. Then, he heats the nerves with radio waves. Heating them blocks their ability to carry pain signals. Several nerves may need to be treated. When the procedure is finished, you get a small bandage on your skin and are watched in a recovery room for a brief time. Afterwards, you can return home. You may feel sore, and you may still have back pain. but you’ll gradually feel pain relief within a few days or several weeks. Your PCA physician will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan.