Minimally invasive procedure relieves facet joint pain

This minimally invasive procedure reduces or eliminates the pain of damaged facet joints by disrupting the medial branch nerves that carry pain signals. A local anesthetic is used to numb the neck and shoulder at the injection site down to the spinal column. Using a fluoroscope to guide carefully the needle-like tube called the cannula to the irritated nerves, the doctor inserts a radiofrequency electrode and administers a weak electric current. If the stimulation recreates the pain without any other effects, the electrode is positioned properly. The doctor then heats the electrode to cauterize the nerve, disrupting its ability to send pain signals.

Multiple nerves may require treatment to adequately block the pain. Radiofrequency neurotomies last longer than steroid block injections.

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