Radiofrequency Treatment: Relief From Facet Joint Pain

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What is a Radiofrequency?

A Radiofrequency (RF) is a nerve lesioning procedure that temporarily interrupts pain or nerve transmission for a prolonged duration. It uses a radiofrequency machine to deliver a high temperature lesion to the patient’s medial branch nerve via an RF electrode to induce thermal destruction of the nerves.

What can you expect during your visit?

radio 2 When the procedure is done in the office, you will meet with your doctor in the exam room first. They will go over all the risks and benefits of this procedure. You will be taken to the exam room, placed in the prone position, and a fluoroscopy guidance machine will be brought into position. Your doctor will then numb the area with a local anesthetic and, using live fluoroscopy guidance; will insert a spinal needle over the correct nerves. He will then place the RF electrode through the needles and begin the process of destroying the sensory portion of the nerve. This is repeated on all affected facet joints. It takes several minutes for the RF to be completed at each site. When the procedure is complete, the medical assistant will clean up the skin and place a bandage over the injection sites. You will then be placed in a post procedure room for about 10 to 20 minutes.

When the procedure is done in a facility, you will check into the facility an hour and a half in advance. You will be asked to fast for 6 hours prior to your procedure. You will be brought back and prepped by a nurse on staff. They will insert the IV for the conscious sedation. In the procedure room you will be placed in the prone position and a fluoroscopy guidance machine will be brought into position. Your doctor will then numb the area with a local anesthetic and, using live fluoroscopy guidance; will insert a spinal needle over the correct nerves. He will then place the RF electrode through the needles and begin the process of destroying the sensory portion of the nerve. This is repeated on all affected facet joints. It takes several minutes for the RF to be completed at each site. You will be monitored for about 30 minutes after your procedure.

radio 1What happens after the injection?

You will be asked not to drive for at least 24 hours after the procedure and you must have a driver drive you home from our office. An increase in pain 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure is normal and it will resolve itself.

How long will the pain relief last?

The duration of the pain relief will last at least 6 month to a year, but could last longer based on how long it takes for the nerves to restore themselves.

Is there anything specific I need to tell my doctor prior to this procedure?

You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant, on blood thinners, diabetic, or if you have any other concerns you would like to address beforehand.

The above information is for general education purposes only. Please ask your doctor specific questions during your visit.

If you’re suffering from facet joint pain and haven’t found effective treatments, radiofrequency could provide lasting relief. Schedule your appointment today.