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Cervical Radiofrequency Neurotomy

Cervical Radiofrequency Neurotomy

Technically, Cervical Radiofrequency Neurotomy is a procedure that is minimally invasive and also known as Radio Frequency (RF). It is widely used for reducing and/or eliminating the pain caused by damaged facet joints and it does so via the disruption of the pain-signal-carrying medial branch nerves. The procedure is generally used for treating chronic headaches and neck pain. During a Cervical Radiofrequency Neurotomy procedure, radiofrequency energy is utilized for disrupting the function of the cervical medial branch nerve. This halts the transmission of pain from the joint that is irritated. It’s a very effective and safe procedure for alleviating the chronic pain that comes from the irritation of the cervical facet joints.

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Cervical Facet Joints & Pain Facts

We all have facet joints on both sides of our spines and they’re approximately thumbnail-sized. They are called cervical facet joints because they’re named for the vertebrae they are connecting, as well as the side of our spines where you can find them. For example, our right C3-4 facet joint is responsible for joining our 3rd and 4th vertebrae on our right side. In additon to connecting our vertebrae, they are the guiding force for our spines during movement. This type of pain results from joint dysfunction, due either to irritation or injury and it generally ranges from basic muscle tension to extremely severe pain and occurs from the head down into your shoulder blades, depending on the facet joint that is affected.

Woman having neck pain while grabbing her neck.

Diagnosing Cervical Facet Pain

If you experience painful symptoms in one or more of the areas described upon the turning of your head one way or the other, and it’s something that you’ve had for more than a few months, you could have cervical facet pain and be a candidate for relief via cervical radiofrequency neurotomy. The procedure is frequently recommended for treating the following:

  • Neck pain that results from whiplash
  • Back pain occuring on one or both sides of the lower back
  • Back pain extending to the buttocks region and thigh area above the knee
  • Back pain that gets worse when twisting or lifting
  • Back pain that shows improvement when lying down.

Pain Relief Duration

Since your nerves require regeneration following a cervical radiofrequency neurotomy procedure, the typical pain relief duration is 10 to 16 months. In the event that your pain should return after that time period, your cervical radiofrequency neurotomy procedure can then be repeated, if necessary, with similar results.

Doctor and patient looking at x-ray of neck.

Cervical Radiofrequency Neurotomy Results

Like many other types of procedures, this one generally will work better for certain people more so than others. One key factor in the success rate is whether those particular nerves that the procedure is targeting are actually the same ones that are causing your pain. And, since it’s an outpatient procedure that usually only requires about one hour, you’ll be happy to know that you’ll be going home the same day. Contact us today to learn more about our Pain Management Services!

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