Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) for Facet Joint Pain
Radiofrequency Ablation, also known as Facet Rhizotomy and Medial Branch
Neurotomy, utilizes a radiofrequency probe to electrochemically denervate
the medial branches, thus rendering the facet joints pain free. The medial
branches do in fact re-innervate over time to a mild degree, whereby the
RFA can be done again.
How does Radiofrequency Ablation Work?
First the medial branch is localized using sensory / motor stimulation
and imaging. Next, the targeted area is locally anesthetized for comfort.
Finally, the RFA device generates a radial sphere of "electrical
frequency" at 80 degrees for 90 seconds at the tip of the probe over
each Medial Branch Block. Applying the radiofrequency energy to the facet
joint nerve involves placing an insulated wire near the nerve tissue.
Advantages of Radiofrequency Ablation
RFA is a semi-permanent procedure for facet joint pain in the lower back.
No steroid is necessary for this procedure. It is useful for axial low
back pain and neck pain from degenerative spine conditions even after
surgery. Little risk to the patient if it is done properly by a board
certified physiatrist. It is important to note that this procedure is
not recommended for patients suffering from neuropathic radicular pain.