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Radiofrequency rhizotomy and radiofrequency neurotomy refer to the same procedure. It’s a minimally invasive treatment to disable the nerves in your spine that are causing pain. Once disabled, those nerves temporarily can’t send pain signals to your brain. This pain management procedure is performed when other treatments have failed and you’re not a candidate for minimally invasive surgery. When you have back pain, call the pain management experts at the Spine & Rehab Group in Manhattan and northern New Jersey. They offer many types of pain-reducing treatments.

What Is Radiofrequency Rhizotomy or Radiofrequency Neurotomy?

Radiofrequency rhizotomy, also called radiofrequency neurotomy, is a non-invasive pain management procedure. It’s primarily used to alleviate or eliminate the pain and other symptoms stemming from cervical facet syndrome (in your neck) or thoracic facet syndrome (in your upper or middle back). Facet joint syndrome is an arthritis-like condition in the spine that causes neck pain or back pain and inflammation.

When you have upper back pain, middle back pain or lower back pain, consult a spine specialist like Dr. Amr Hosny and his team at the Spine & Rehab Group. With three offices in Manhattan and five more in Bergen County, Morris County and Union County in New Jersey, there’s a location near you. You need a diagnosis of facet joint syndrome before your spine doctor recommends radiofrequency rhizotomy.

Who Needs Radiofrequency Neurotomy?

The risk of suffering from facet joint syndrome increases as you age, although there are many causes for the condition. Your spine doctor typically recommends a radiofrequency neurotomy treatment when surgery isn’t an option. Other factors that influence the decision to perform this procedure include:

  • You have pain on one or both sides of your back.
  • The back pain extends to your thighs and buttocks, as in sciatica.
  • Your back pain becomes worse when you lift something.
  • Your pain feels better after lying down for a short period.
  • You have multiple, concurrent spinal conditions.

Since everyone is potentially at risk for facet joint syndrome, anyone may benefit from a radiofrequency rhizotomy procedure if it’s warranted. As long as your doctor can pinpoint the vertebral bone causing your pain, this procedure can provide temporary relief, even of chronic pain.

What Conditions Does Radiofrequency Rhizotomy Treat?

A radiofrequency thermal rhizotomy reduces or resolves a number of specific types of back pain, such as:

A radiofrequency rhizotomy can also be effective for some types of hip pain and knee pain. Only a trained, experienced spine specialist like those at the Spine & Rehab Group in NYC and northern NJ can determine if you’re a good candidate for a radiofrequency neurotomy. Because your back pain may stem from many causes, you need an accurate diagnosis before you can receive this treatment.

What Are the Types of Rhizotomy?

There are three types of rhizotomy procedures, all of which address specific back pain issues. All three focus on disabling or destroying the nerves that send pain signals to your brain. The three types of rhizotomy include:

  1. Radiofrequency rhizotomy. Also called radiofrequency ablation or thermal rhizotomy, this procedure uses radio waves to damage pain-carrying nerves in your spine.
  2. Glycerin/glycerol rhizotomy. Your spine doctor uses a needle to deliver a little amount of glycerin or glycerol to destroy the nerve at the root level.
  3. Endoscopic rhizotomy. A minimally invasive surgery, this procedure uses an endoscope, allowing your doctor to surgically cut the nerves.

At the Spine & Rehab Group, Dr. Hosny and the other doctors rely on the radiofrequency technique to damage painful nerves in a delicate, minimally invasive procedure. The procedure provides temporary pain relief that lasts up to several months.

What Can I Expect During a Radiofrequency Rhizotomy?

A radiofrequency neurotomy is an in-office, outpatient procedure. It requires no hospitalization, and you can return home to recuperate that same day. You’ll need to arrange for a ride home, as you aren’t allowed to drive after the procedure. The procedure itself takes only minutes and follows several common steps, including:

  1. Your spine specialist needs access to the area on your back to be treated. By this point, your doctor knows which spinal nerves to treat from diagnostic imaging tests.
  2. You lie face-down on a table beneath a fluoroscope, which provides live x-ray images.
  3. You’re given either local or general anesthesia to keep you comfortable.
  4. The radiofrequency energy is delivered to the precise nerve through a thin needle.

After the procedure, you feel significant pain relief. You return home with care instructions from your doctor. You can usually return to work the next day, as long as your work doesn’t involve excessive physical labor. For comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of back pain, contact the experts at the Spine & Rehab Group.

Page Updated on Oct 28, 2021 by Dr. Hosny (Interventional Spine Specialist) of The Spine & Rehab Group
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