Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy
Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy, also known as Radio Frequency (RF), is a minimally invasive procedure designed to eliminate pain in damaged facet joints of the spine. It works by emitting radio signals that disrupt the pain signals carried by the medial branch nerves of the spine.
Causes of Cervical Facet Joint Pain
There are two sets of facet joints at the back of each vertebra. These joints allow the spine to bend forward, bend backward, and perform twisting motions. Several disease conditions can interfere with smooth mobility in the cervical region of the spine, including:
- Osteoarthritis that causes cartilage deterioration forcing joint bones to rub against one another, resulting in pain
- Degenerative disc disease that causes intervertebral discs to flatten, providing less cushioning between the bones and impeding joint movement
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Spinal stenosis
- Traumatic injury
In addition, poor posture, and normal wear and tear, due to activity and aging, may also contribute to cervical facet joint pain.
How does Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy relieve neck pain?
Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy relieves pain by preventing specific spinal nerves from transmitting pain signals. Although radiofrequency therapy originated more than three decades ago, recently it has come to be delivered in pulsating signals that are more effective in combatting pain. Not only that, but because the pulsed radiofrequency applies an electrical field to the targeted nerve for short intervals at a lower temperature, it does not destroy nerve tissue. It works by simply “stunning” the appropriate nerves. This treatment may provide months of relief.
What can be expected after the treatment?
Patients can expect some pain or discomfort after the procedure. Typically, it is mild enough to be counteracted with the use of over-the-counter medications. If the pain increases, the doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication temporarily. The pain-relieving benefits of the RF treatment can take from 1 to 4 weeks to be fully evident.