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A radiofrequency neurotomy interrupts the sensory nerve supply to the involved facet joint through the use of thermal denervation. After a local anesthetic is applied to the patient’s skin, the physician uses fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance to place radiofrequency needles alongside the nerves that supply the inflamed joint. After ensuring the needle is in the correct position, thermal energy is applied, and the nerve is deadened.

Radiofrequency neurotomy or denervation is usually effective after one treatment. The procedure may be repeated every six months to 1 year, if necessary. Radiofrequency neurotomy should not be confused with pulsed radiofrequency of the dorsal root ganglion, which is a separate procedure aimed to reduce pain caused by the spinal nerve roots.

Radiofrequency has been performed safely for many years with excellent outcomes. Patients may have a sore back or neck for one to two days, and it is recommended that they take it easy on the day of the procedure. Typically, patients can return to usual activities the following day. The benefit of this procedure will usually occur within two weeks. Successful neurotomy typically provides relief for 6 to 12 months, and up to two years and beyond for some.

How It Helps

A cervical, thoracic, or lumbar radiofrequency can helpful in treating degenerative disc disease throughout the spine, peripheral nerve entrapment, and complex regional pain syndrome.

Areas Of Treatment