What is lumbar rhizotomy?


Quick Answer

­­­Lumbar rhizotomy treats back pain by interrupting pain signals that travel through spinal nerves, according to the Los Angeles Minimally Invasive Spine Institute. The procedure is considered minimally invasive and is performed on an outpatient basis. Pain relief can last for 3 to 6 months.

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Full Answer

The neck and back pain treated by lumbar rhizotomy originates in spine's facet joints, reports the institute. A lumbar rhizotomy is performed following specific diagnostic procedures used to ensure a patient is a good candidate for the rhizotomy.

A probe is used to interrupt the nerve sensations associated with the facet joint causing pain, SpineUniverse explains. Highly localized heat generated with radiofrequency is used during the 30- to 60-minute procedure. A local anesthetic keeps patients awake and comfortable during a lumbar rhizotomy.

Serious complications are uncommon, according to SpineUniverse. Some patients are able to return to their usual activities the day after treatment, but the Los Angeles Minimally Invasive Spine Institutes recommends limiting rigorous activity for up to three days. Bruising, tenderness and swelling at the affected site may occur, but prolonged pain, fever, bleeding or drainage are symptoms that should immediately be reported to a medical professional, SpineHealth notes. Over-the-counter pain medication and ice packs are effective treatments to ease the minimal discomfort that may occur following this procedure.

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