Radiofrequency neurotomy stops nerve pain signals to the brain
When other non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy and medication have proven ineffective, your doctor may suggest radiofrequency neurotomy treatments of the lumbar facet joints. The procedure involves using an electrode to precisely identify, stimulate and cauterize (burn) irritated nerves so that pain signals will no longer travel from the nerves to the brain. Lumbar radiofrequency neurotomy specifically focuses on the nerve bundles in the lower back.
What to expect from a lumbar radiofrequency neurotomy treatment
For this treatment you are given mild sedation to help you relax. You will lie on your stomach and the doctor will use a numbing solution on the area being treated. Next, your physician uses X-ray technology or fluoroscopy to insert and guide a thin tube called a cannula into the lumbar region. An electrode is passed through the cannula and carefully positioned to “recreate” the nerve pain you’re experiencing. Once the position is confirmed, the doctor uses the electrode to heat the affected nerve until it is no longer able to send the pain response.
Because nerves regenerate, the pain signals will eventually be able to travel along those nerves again. The relief, however, usually lasts between 10 and 18 months. When you experience relief from the pain, it can help your body heal itself faster.
Radiofrequency neurotomy may not work for everyone. If you do experience lasting relief from pain, then the treatment was able to target the nerves causing your pain. If the treatment doesn’t make a difference, it may be that your pain is coming from the sacroiliac joints or somewhere else.