Radiofrequency Rhizotomy for Chronic Neck Pain

Radiofrequency Rhizotomy for Chronic Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain. Some patients may benefit from anti-inflammatory medications, injections, and other pain treatments, but these first-line remedies don’t work for all for others.

Failure to obtain relief with these treatments often means that it’s time to take another step toward pain relief – radiofrequency rhizotomy.

Radiofrequency Rhizotomy

Radiofrequency Rhizotomy, or radiofrequency ablation or RFA, is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure for pain relief. The procedure involves ablation of the nerves that are delivering pain signals to the brain in a specific region of the body, such as the neck. Radiofrequency waves target specific nerves and interrupt pain signals.

The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and light sedation. After numbing the treatment area, live X-ray guidance to pass a small electrical current into the space to confirm the location of the nerve(s). Then the nerve is heated using radiofrequency. This deactivates the nerve root preventing it from transmitting further pain signals. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes.

Is rhizotomy right for me?

Your pain doctor may first try diagnostic steroid pain injections. If steroid injections reduce pain by 80% or more, a rhizotomy could bring lasting relief.

Other criteria to understand whether you are a good candidate for rhizotomy are:

  • Chronic pain in your neck and back
  • Lasting pain for more than 6 weeks
  • Chronic headaches
  • Chronic Knee pain
  • Chronic Hip Pain
  • Previous rhizotomy, with significant pain relief (50% or more)

If the procedure is successful, you will start experiencing pain relief within a few weeks. Patients have experienced lasting relief for as long as two years. Nerve roots can grow back, so you may need to repeat the procedure over time.

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