Lumbar Facet Joint RadioFrequency Treatment: An Overview

Lumbar Facet Joint Radiofrequency Treatment: An Overview

Lumbar facet joint radiofrequency treatment is an option for pain consultants when conservative treatment for lumbar facet joint pain has not been successful.

Conservative treatment (i.e. treatment that is not invasive and does not involve surgery) will probably initially be tried to see whether or not the patient will respond to such treatments.

If not, then here are two procedures that my be undertaken: a lumbar facet joint block or radiofrequency treatment.

This brief article provides an overview of the radiofrequency, but there is additional information is available on this website, relating to lumbar facet joint blocks.

Lumbar Facets Defined

To those of us unfamiliar with anatomy, the lumbar facet joints may be an enigma. However, in medical terms they are important. They exist at every level of the spine, with 25 pairs in total. Every facet joint is then connected to a nerve, which communicates signals away from the spine to the brain as well as the rest of the body.

Facet joints give the spine a good range of movement, especially with regard to the lower back and they also give the spine some centralising strength so they are very important.

When the nerves that are connected to the facet joints experience pain, because of injury or a condition such as arthritis, the patient can experience significant and chronic levels of pain.

Where techniques such as analgesics, physiotherapy etc have been tried but the pain is not eased, then the minimally invasive procedure known as radiofrequency treatment may be advised.

Radiofrequency Treatment

The use of radiofrequency is not a new technique since it has been around for a number of years. It involves the patient undergoing an xray, so that the consultant can ensure that the needle that is to be inserted goes into exactly the right place.

Patients will also be relaxed by sedative drugs being given as required and an anaesthetic will be applied to a small area of the skin.

Electric current, in the form of radiofrequency is then delivered via a radiofrequency needle, to the nerve that is being targeted. In layman’s terms, the nerve is heated and numbed, so that pain levels will be ultimately reduced.

Initially the patient may experience some varying levels of discomfort after the nerves have been treated.

Although the nerves have effectively been subjected to a lesion, i.e. an injury, they will eventually regenerate, so there is no lasting damage.

During radiofrequency several nerves are usually targeted and the patient may well require more than one session of treatment. The time a treatment session can take varies from some 30 minutes to over an hour.

Many patients do find that this course of treatment is very successful in solving their pain problem. It may not cure the root cause, but it alleviates the pain levels experienced, which in many cases is the optimum outcomes or result that can be anticipated.

There are only minor risks of side effects associated with this procedure and it is generally suitable for most patients, but specific advice will be provided by your pain consultant with regard to whether or not this procedure is safe and suitable for your condition.

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