The joints in your spine are just as susceptible to osteoarthritis as other joints, and they cause the same progressive pain and stiffness. When your pain stops responding to conventional treatments, it may be time to consider a radiofrequency neurotomy. The providers at Deschutes Surgery Center, LLC, have helped many patients find pain relief by successfully performing this minimally invasive procedure. To schedule an appointment, contact the surgery center at Central Oregon Spine & Sports in Bend, Oregon.
Radiofrequency neurotomy is similar to radiofrequency ablation. The two names are often used interchangeably because both procedures use radiofrequency waves to wound a specific nerve. The wound then stops pain signals from traveling through the nerve to your brain, which relieves your pain.
However, radiofrequency neurotomy typically targets specific conditions. There are two types of radiofrequency neurotomies: A medial branch neurotomy treats nerves serving the facet joints in your spine. A lateral branch neurotomy targets the nerves serving your sacroiliac joint.
When your pain originates in a facet joint, the underlying problem is usually facet joint syndrome, or osteoarthritis. The facet joints are lined by cartilage so the bones can move smoothly and allow your spine to bend and twist. The facet joints are also susceptible to degenerative disease, and as the cartilage wears down, the bones in the joint rub together, leading to pain and inflammation.
If your neurotomy is to treat pain in the sacroiliac joint, the problem is typically sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Your sacroiliac joint is unusual because it has very limited movement. Instead of supporting movement, it serves to absorb shock as pressure transfers from your upper body to your hips and legs.
When you have sacroiliac joint dysfunction, the joint moves too much or too little. As a result, you develop hip instability or loss of motion.
During radiofrequency neurotomy, your doctor at Deschutes Surgery Center uses a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to see the needle while it’s being inserted. Once the tip of the needle is carefully placed on the targeted nerve, your doctor stimulates the nerve.
After the nerve is stimulated, you should briefly feel the same pain caused by your underlying condition. You may also have some muscle twitching. Both signs verify that the right nerve is being treated. Your doctor then numbs the area and uses radiofrequency energy that comes through the tip of the needle to wound the nerve.
Your pain relief should last 9-14 months and possibly longer, depending on how long it takes your nerve to heal. In some patients, the nerve may not fully regenerate, so it’s hard to predict how long your results will last. If your pain returns, you can have another radiofrequency neurotomy.
If you’d like to be considered for radiofrequency neurotomy, contact Deschutes Surgery Center at Central Oregon Spine & Sports.