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Spinal Facet Joint Radiofrequency ablation (Rhizolysis)

For neck pain and back pain

Lumbar and cervical radiofrequency nerve ablation is a safe, effective and state of-the-art procedure aimed at alleviating low back and neck pain derived from the facet joints.

What is Facet Joint Pain? Facet joints are small, smooth, and flexible connections between the vertebrae of the spine. These joints play a crucial role in facilitating movement and maintaining stability. However, due to aging, injuries, or wear and tear, these facet joints can become a source of chronic pain, leading to discomfort and reduced mobility in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions.

Understanding Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation: Lumbar and cervical radiofrequency nerve ablation is an advanced, minimally invasive procedure designed to target and relieve facet joint pain. It utilizes precisely controlled heat to deactivate the nerves responsible for transmitting pain signals from the affected facet joints to the brain. By interrupting this pain pathway, the procedure can provide significant and long-lasting pain relief.

How Does it Work? This minimally invasive spinal procedure is all done under local anaesthetic, under the guidance of fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray). A specialized needle is inserted down to the targeted medial branch nerve, which supplies the painful facet joint. Local anesthetic is administered to ensure your comfort. The radiofrequency ablation device then generates heat to create a lesion on the nerve, disrupting its ability to transmit pain signals. The procedure typically takes around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the number of affected joints.

Benefits of Lumbar and Cervical Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation:

  1. Lasting Pain Relief: Many patients experience significant relief lasting several months or even years after the procedure.

  2. Minimally Invasive: The procedure is through a needle and results in no scarring and reduced recovery time.

  3. Improved Functionality: With reduced pain, patients often find an improvement in their overall mobility and quality of life.

  4. Non-Surgical: Unlike traditional surgery, this approach does not involve major incisions, reducing the risk of complications.


Post-Procedure Recovery: After the procedure, patients can expect to resume their normal activities with some restrictions for a short period. Our team will provide personalized post-procedure care instructions, ensuring a smooth recovery and optimal results.

If Dr Davis has recommended this procedure, more info can be found here:

Facet joint RF ablation:

What is the evidence for Radiofrequency Ablation:

Cohen SP, Sireci A, Wu CL, Larkin TM, Williams KA, Hurley RW. Pulsed Radiofrequency of the Dorsal Root Ganglia is Superior to Pharmacotherapy or Pulsed Radiofrequency of the Intervertebral Disc in the Treatment of Chronic Lumbar Radicular Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Pain Physician. 2006 Jan;9(2):227-35. PMID: 16700295.

This randomized controlled trial compared the efficacy of pulsed radiofrequency of the dorsal root ganglia and the intervertebral disc in patients with chronic lumbar radicular pain. The study concluded that pulsed radiofrequency of the dorsal root ganglia resulted in superior pain reduction compared to pharmacotherapy or pulsed radiofrequency of the intervertebral disc.

Nath S, Nath CA, Pettersson K. Percutaneous Lumbar Zygapophysial (Facet) Joint Neurotomy Using Radiofrequency Current, in the Management of Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Double-blind Trial. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2008 Feb 1;33(3):1291-7. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31817329f1. PMID: 18427320.

In this double-blind, randomized trial, percutaneous lumbar zygapophysial (facet) joint neurotomy using radiofrequency current was evaluated for the management of chronic low back pain. The study found that radiofrequency neurotomy provided significant pain relief and functional improvement compared to the control group.

Dreyfuss P, Halbrook B, Pauza K, Joshi A, McLarty J, Bogduk N. Efficacy and Validity of Radiofrequency Neurotomy for Chronic Lumbar Zygapophysial Joint Pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2000;25(10):1270-7. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200005150-00009. PMID: 10828914.

This study assessed the efficacy and validity of radiofrequency neurotomy for chronic lumbar zygapophysial joint pain. The results demonstrated significant pain reduction and functional improvement after the procedure, supporting the effectiveness of radiofrequency neurotomy in managing facet joint pain.

Gofeld M, Jitendra J, Faclier G. Radiofrequency Denervation of the Lumbar Facet Joints: 10 Years of Outcome Data from the Spine Intervention Society Annual Meeting. Anesth Pain Med. 2016 Oct 9;6(6):e39177. doi: 10.5812/aapm.39177. eCollection 2016 Dec. PMID: 28144490; PMCID: PMC5253091.

This retrospective study evaluated the long-term outcomes of radiofrequency denervation of the lumbar facet joints in patients with chronic low back pain. The data collected over ten years from the Spine Intervention Society Annual Meeting showed positive and sustained pain relief in a significant proportion of patients.

These studies provide evidence of the effectiveness of lumbar and cervical radiofrequency nerve ablation for pain reduction in patients with facet joint pain. As a musculoskeletal physician, I am committed to staying up-to-date with the latest research and implementing evidence-based treatments to provide the best possible care for my patients

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