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What is rhizotomy surgery?

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Quick Answer

A rhizotomy is a minimally invasive procedure that relieves facet joint pain through application of an electrical field to the medial nerves, according to Kraus Back & Neck Institute. This inhibits the transmission of pain signals to provide symptom relief for up to a year.

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Full Answer

Also known as radiofrequency therapy or radiofrequency ablation, a surgeon performs a rhizotomy on the facet joints in the neck, mid back or lower back, as stated by Kraus Back & Neck Institute. A surgeon performs the procedure in a sterile setting with the patient situated to provide access to the spine. He then injects a local anesthetic before inserting an electrode into the spine and delivering a mild electrical current to the area. The procedure generally takes 15 to 20 minutes. Immediately after the rhizotomy, the patient moves to a recovery area for monitoring before being released. The patient may experience some pain or discomfort in the days following the procedure.

Rare but serious complications may include nerve damage, bleeding, infection or allergic reaction, according to Kraus Back & Neck Institute. Although facet joint injections are often enough to relieve back pain, patients may consider a rhizotomy if they desire more long-term paint relief, as confirmed by SpineUniverse.

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