Rhizotomy: A Minimally Invasive Solution for Chronic Back and Neck Pain

Rhizotomy at Summit Spine & Joint Centers is a simpler way to relieve back, neck, and joint pain – without surgery. 

If you suffer from persistent neck, back, or joint pain due to arthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated discs, or other conditions, you may be a candidate for a revolutionary procedure called rhizotomy. At Summit Spine & Joint Centers, our expert team specializes in this minimally invasive treatment that can provide significant, lasting relief from chronic pain.

What is Rhizotomy?

Rhizotomy, also known as radiofrequency neurotomy or radiofrequency ablation, is an innovative procedure that uses heat to disrupt the function of specific nerve roots that are the source of your pain.

During the procedure, one of our board-certified physicians will use advanced imaging guidance to precisely locate the problematic nerve root. A thin insulated needle is inserted near the nerve, delivering radiofrequency energy to cauterize and disable its ability to transmit pain signals to the brain.

By blocking these pain pathways, rhizotomy can provide relief for patients suffering from chronic back, neck, hip, knee, or other joint pain. Unlike oral medications or injections that simply mask pain, this minimally invasive outpatient treatment targets the root cause for long-lasting results.

Rhizotomy: A Minimally Invasive Solution for Chronic Back and Neck Pain

How Does Rhizotomy Work to Alleviate Pain?

The premise behind rhizotomy is to cauterize and deaden the medial branch nerve that carries pain signals from the facet joints in the spine. These small stabilizing joints can become inflamed and arthritic over time due to injury, wear-and-tear, or conditions like spinal stenosis.

Using live X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy), the physician will administer a numbing anesthetic and guide a specialized radiofrequency probe toward the problematic medial branch nerve. Precise thermal energy is then delivered through the needle tip, which cauterizes the nerve fibers and disrupts their ability to relay pain signals from that joint to the brain.

This advanced pain management approach not only alleviates the source of chronic back or neck pain, it does so without the need for oral medication, injections, addictive narcotics, or invasive surgery.

Am I a Good Candidate for Rhizotomy?

Rhizotomy may be an appropriate solution if you are experiencing any of the following types of chronic pain that have not responded well to conservative treatments:

  • Back Pain: Rhizotomy can alleviate back pain related to arthritis of the spine, herniated or bulging discs, bone spurs, and other degenerative spine conditions.
  • Neck Pain: Cervical rhizotomy is effective for relieving chronic neck and upper back pain caused by pinched nerves, cervical stenosis, and wear-and-tear on the discs and joints.
  • Joint Pain: Hip, knee, shoulder, and other joint pain stemming from osteoarthritis, sacroiliitis, or other arthritic conditions may respond well to rhizotomy.
  • Facet Joint Syndrome: Rhizotomy is a proven treatment for facet joint inflammation and irritation in the spine.

Our team utilizes advanced diagnostic techniques like medial branch blocks to identify the specific source of your pain and determine if rhizotomy is the right treatment approach for you.

What Does the Rhizotomy Procedure Consist Of?

On the day of your rhizotomy, you will receive light sedation and local numbing medication to keep you completely comfortable for the outpatient procedure. Using fluoroscopic guidance (live x-ray imaging), your doctor will administer a deeper numbing anesthetic in the treatment area.

Next, a thin radiofrequency probe will be inserted and guided toward the targeted medial branch nerve responsible for your pain. As the probe is carefully advanced, your doctor will administer a mild electrical stimulation through the needle to ensure proper nerve location. If you feel a mild buzzing sensation, it confirms the probe is positioned correctly.

Once ideal positioning is achieved, the radiofrequency generator is used to deliver thermal energy through the probe tip for 60-90 seconds. This safe, controlled amount of heat cauterizes the medial branch nerve to disrupt its ability to transmit pain signals – without impacting any other nerves, muscles, or tissue.

The rhizotomy procedure typically takes 30-90 minutes, during which time you will be closely monitored. When the treatment is complete, a small adhesive bandage will be applied at the insertion site. Most patients are able to return home the same day to begin the recovery process.

What Kind of Recovery & Results Can Expect from Rhizotomy?

Rhizotomy offers significant advantages compared to other treatments like medications, injections, or open back surgery. It is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure with a relatively quick recovery period.

Most patients feel minimal discomfort at the treatment area for a day or two, which can be controlled with over-the-counter medication. Some residual soreness, bruising or swelling in the back is normal for a week or so following the procedure. During this time, you will be encouraged to take it easy while still remaining active with light walking or stretching as tolerated.

Most patients start to notice pain relief within 1-3 weeks after rhizotomy, as the numbing effects take hold. It may take up to 6-12 weeks to experience the full results, including decreased inflammation and a return to activities without severe chronic pain.

The beneficial effects of rhizotomy are long-lasting, typically providing meaningful relief for 6-12 months and in some cases even longer. If your pain returns, the procedure can potentially be repeated depending on your specific condition.

Why Choose Summit Spine & Joint Centers for Rhizotomy?

At Summit Spine & Joint Centers, we pride ourselves on delivering an unparalleled level of expertise, compassionate care, and effective pain management solutions. Our renowned team of board-certified physicians brings decades of specialized experience performing rhizotomy and other leading interventional procedures.

Using the most advanced technology like fluoroscopic imaging guidance and radiofrequency generators, we take a meticulous, personalized approach to diagnosing and treating the root cause of your chronic pain. Our physicians have extensive training in administering medial branch blocks, interpreting the results, and precisely targeting the nerves responsible for your discomfort.

With several convenient locations, Summit Spine & Joint Centers strives to make innovative treatments like rhizotomy accessible to patients from all walks of life. Our patient-first philosophy means you can expect exceptional care and support every step of the way on your journey to a pain-free life.

Don’t let chronic pain keep you sidelined any longer. Contact Summit Spine & Joint Centers today to schedule a consultation and learn more about whether minimally invasive rhizotomy could be the solution you’ve been waiting for.


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