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Specialist Orthopaedic Doctors

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Back Pain Injections

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Fluoroscopically Guided Digital X-Ray Injections

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Spinal Manipulation

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Exercise & Rehabilitation Programmes for the Young...

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...and the Not So Young

Facet Joint Radiofrequency Denervation

Otherwise known as: Radiofrequency Facet Joint Neurolysis or Radiofrequency Facet Joint Nerve Ablation

Denervation means an 'interruption of the pain-carrying nerves', in this case the ones supplying the facet joints in your back. It is done using radiofrequency (RF) lesioning. This is a safe, proven means of interrupting pain signals. RF current is used to heat up a small volume of nerve tissue, thereby interrupting pain signals from that specific area. Clinical data shows that RF lesioning can effectively provide lasting pain relief.

Treatments and Side Effects
RF lesioning is performed by the specialist in an operating room setting. Both local anaesthesia and a mild sedative may be used to reduce any discomfort during the procedure. You will need to be awake and alert during both the sensory and motor stimulation process to aid in properly pinpointing the placement of the lesioning electrode.

During the radiofrequency denervation procedure you will be lying on your stomach. After the local anaesthesia has been administered, the doctor will insert a small needle into the general area where you are experiencing pain. Under X-ray guidance, he will then guide the needle to the target area. A microelectrode is then inserted through the needle to begin the stimulation process. During this process, you will be asked by your doctor if you are able to feel a tingling sensation. The object of the stimulation process is to help your doctor to ensure the electrode is in the optimal area for treatment, thus producing the most relief.

Once the needle and electrode placement is verified, treatment is ready to begin. A small RF current will travel through the electrode into the surrounding tissue, causing the tissue to heat and eliminate the pain pathways. You should alert your doctor if at any time during the procedure you experience any discomfort.

After the procedure you may experience some soft tissue discomfort at the needle placement sites. Like other soft tissue wounds, the discomfort will subside over several days. Food and liquid consumption can usually be resumed soon after the procedure.

RF treatment usually blocks pain signals for a prolonged period of time. However, the human body may regenerate pain pathways over time. It is not unusual that the procedure may need to be repeated. More than 80% of patients experience 10 months or more of significant pain relief.

RF treatment will not limit your day-to-day activities. You should be able to resume your normal activities, including work, as soon as you feel able. However, any pre-existing physical restrictions you had prior to the procedure may still remain. You will be in the Clinic for approximately 1—2 hours in total. An appointment will be made for a follow-up.