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How is facet rhizotomy done?

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Quick Answer

A facet rhizotomy procedure involves the use of an electrical current that destroys pain-signaling nerve fibers. The purpose of a facet rhizotomy is to relieve a patient of pain resulting from spine conditions, says the Laser Spine Institute.

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Full Answer

Patients who qualify for a facet rhizotomy most often undergo facet joint injections. These determine the source of the pain in the spine, says East Carolina Pain Consultants. Prior to the procedure, doctors clean the skin with a solution before they numb it with a local anesthetic. They then place a needle with an electrode against the facet joint’s small nerves. The electrode heats up and destroys the nerves.

Facet rhizotomy takes 30 to 60 minutes to complete on average, East Carolina Pain Consultants claim. Though rhizotomy does not completely get rid of the pain, most patients experience relief. They can return to their normal activities the day after the procedure. Most people do not suffer many side effects from facet rhizotomy — complications such as nerve damage and paralysis can happen, but they are rare.

Pain symptoms may eventually return even after a facet rhizotomy, states East Carolina Pain Consultants. Undergoing a variety of pain relief measures is the best way to treat those problems. Regular exercise and relaxation can also help to stave off pain from spinal conditions.

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