Rhizotomy (also called “facet ablation” or “radio frequency ablation”) is an advanced non-surgical procedure in which radio frequency waves are used to temporarily destroy problematic nerve tissues, providing pain relief. Although the destruction of nerves may sound dangerous, the nerves are not completely destroyed. This procedure eliminates pain but does not eliminate nerve function.

Perhaps the most convenient element of this procedure is that there are no injections, incisions or other semi-invasive steps required; the radio frequency waves are applied to the nerves through the skin of the back. Because there is no breaking of the skin and no outer healing process, rhizotomy is a quick and painless outpatient procedure that may be a good option for those who would rather not undergo surgery for an otherwise manageable condition.

Rhizotomy may be used to treat back pain related to such conditions as:

  • Facet disease
  • Foraminal stenosis
  • Pinched nerves
  • Bone spurs
  • Complications from a previous failed back surgery

Rhizotomy can also be performed as part of a sequence of treatments, sometimes following an epidural nerve injection procedure. If the injection is able to numb the pain, it confirms the location of the pain source to be targeted for the following rhizotomy. Generally, the relief from this procedure is expected to last approximately 6 to 8 months before the ablated nerves begin to grow new tissue and continue to transmit pain signals from the existing spinal condition. When this occurs, of course, the patient can return to have the rhizotomy performed again.

If you are experiencing back pain due to facet disease, pinched nerves or another spinal condition but are not interested in surgical options, rhizotomy may be a good choice for you. Contact our clinic at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment to meet with Dr. Neece and discuss your options one-on-one.