When Is Cervical Facet Joint Denervation Carried Out By Radiofrequency?

Cervical facet joint denervation is a technique that is used to alleviate specific pain originating from the cervical facet joints.  These joints are extremely important, because they relate to the top and neck of the spine being able to rotate and bend.


Pain can originate within the cervical facet joints because they may bave deteriorated as part of the ageing process or they have sustained an injury.


Pain in the cervical facet joints can be quite debilitating and can also be very painful, which is why it causes so much distress to people who experience pain in this area.


Sometimes, after conventional treatments have been tried, but the pain has not been alleviated, patients may be advised to undergo a cervical facet joint denervation. Conversely some patients may not be advised to have this procedure, if it is felt that it is not suitable for them.


So Who Should Have Cervical Denervation With Radiofrequency?


Patients who have had at least 3 months of traditional treatment should be considered for this treatment. The period of 3 months is important because it will give patients time to see if the traditional or conservative treatments will work. Cervical facet joint denervation using radiofrequency is not offered as a first treatment, it is only after other treatments have not been successful.


Patients need to have pain that definitely originates in the cervical facet joints and this pain cannot be radicular.  Radicular pain is pain that radiates along a nerve because it has been caused by the irritation of the nerve root or the nerve is inflamed.


Patients should also have responded to nerve root blocks carried out within the cervical facet joints. This will make the procedure more likely to succeed and there 6 months pain relief or even more can be obtained by using this very straightforward technique.


Who Should NOT Have Cervical Denervation With Radiofrequency?


Unfortunately some patients will find that this procedure is not suitable for them.


If patients have had nerve root blocks carried out and they have not been successful then it is unlikely that the radiofrequency denervation will be successful.


Patients should also not have had surgery, namely spinal fusion procedures undertaken within the area that is being treated, so the cervical joints that are being ‘denerved’ must not have been subject to spinal fusion surgery.


There has to be a period between denervation procedures being undertaken (usually 6 months) and the procedure cannot be carried out if the previous denervation was only recently carried out.


Risks From Denervation Using Radiofrequency


Due to the fact that this procedure is not administered using a general anaesthetic and it is a relatively quick procedure, this is an extremely safe procedure and patients should not be fearful about it. It is administered using a local anaesthetic and sometimes a sedative and patients do not even have to stay in hospital overnight, they can return home on the same day that the denervation is carried out.

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