RADIO FREQUENCY ABLATION/RHIZOTOMY
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure used to treat various medical issues. In pain management, the RFA procedure is often used to treat arthritis of the spine. The small joints in the spine are called the facet joints, which are responsible for limiting over-bending of the spine. Over time, these joints can develop arthritis, which can lead to significant low back pain.
Facet joint arthritis can be treated with steroid injections. However, for longer lasting relief, we can target the medial branch nerves that supply the facet joint. The physician will first perform diagnostic blocks to confirm that arthritis of the facet joint is the cause of pain. For patients with significant facet arthritis pain, this diagnostic procedure should provide temporary relief. If the patient reports good pain relief, then they would qualify for radio-frequency ablation.
The ablation is performed with a device that uses a high frequency electrical current to eliminate the transmission of nerve signals. This RFA procedure can provide 9-12 months of relief. If the pain returns, then the patient would be able to repeat the procedure yearly.