Lumbar Facet Joints: Radiofrequency Treatment/Denervation and After Care

Lumbar Facet Joints: Radiofrequency Treatment/Denervation and After Care


Treating the lumbar facet joints with radiofrequency is sometimes referred to as ‘lumbar facet joints denervation’ since effectively the nerves that are causing the pain will be deadened and so they will not send any pain signals to the brain.


Most people who undergo radiofrequency treatment will have responded well to lumbar facet joint block injections, which not only confirm the nerves that are causing the pain but will minimise the pain. However, these blocks are not permanent and sometimes the pain will recur and this is when patients are advised that the optimum treatment would be a radiofrequency treatment to ensure that the pain is alleviated for a year or more and in many cases, even after the treated nerves have managed to regenerate, the pain never reoccurs.


The procedure itself is very straightforward and there is more information available on this website about how the procedure is carried out, but this article focuses on the period after the procedure.


Immediately After The Denervation


After the procedure has been undertaken, you will be monitored for a while, usually in the recovery room, to ensure that you are well enough to be discharged. You should not attempt to walk unaided initially, but after a few hours you should be able to go home. It is important that you do not drive home and if you live alone, it would be advisable to have someone stay in your home overnight. This is not because the procedure itself is ‘dangerous’ but simply because you have had treatment to the nerves in your back and for the first 24 hours or so, you may find that pain levels are increased or that you have an odd sensation in your back or even in an arm. Thus having someone to stay in your home simply ensures that you are safe.


The First Week After The Denervation


Usually within the first week of the denervation being carried out, patients will start to feel significantly better. Often the back may be quite painful for up to four days afterwards, but then the nerves will start to die off and will then cease sending pain signals to the brain. Some people do find that they do need to rest for a few days before they go back to work, but in other cases the pain relief can be almost instantaneous.


A Couple of Weeks After Denervation


It is important to start being active as soon as you start to feel better. If you have been given exercises to do by a physiotherapist, then make sure that you undertake these regularly.


You should also try to increase your activity levels, with gentle activities such as walking, although swimming is also good. Be careful not to overdo any exercise and try to pace yourself, so that you do not place undue stress on any of the lumbar facet joints, but do not simply rest all the time, or else you will find that this also stresses the facet joints.

But with a little time and gently exercising your body, you should now find that your pain levels are significantly decreased and that your life is also significantly enhanced!





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