What Are Some Side Effects of a Lumbar Facet Rhizotomy?

Possible side effects or complications of a lumbar facet rhizotomy include infection, allergic reaction, nerve damage and bleeding, according to East Carolina Pain Consultants. A facet rhizotomy can provide significant relief from chronic pain for six to 18 months, but eventually, the pain returns. Because the procedure requires a local anesthetic to numb the site of electrode placement, it is possible to have complications at the injection site, such as bleeding or swelling, reports Mayfield Brain and Spine.

A lumbar facet rhizotomy procedure involves placing an electrode alongside nerves that are causing pain and then heating this electrode via radiofrequency technology to deaden the nerves and therefore diminish their ability to send pain signals. The procedure takes 30 minutes to an hour. A local anesthetic is injected prior to the introduction of the electrode. Patients rarely experience complications after this procedure and are expected to be able to return to their normal activities right away, notes East Carolina Pain Consultants.

Patients should contact their doctor immediately if they experience a serious headache, a fever, increased back stiffness or pain that is more severe than the pain that was initially being treated, adds East Carolina Pain Consultants. Patients should seek immediate emergency medical attention if they experience limb paralysis, loss of bladder or bowel control, or general weakness.