Radiofrequency Lesion Procedure is used to treat pain of joints in the spine. It is a procedure in which special needles are used to create lesions along selected nerves.
The needles heat the nerve to a desired temperature. When this heat is applied to the nerve for about 2-3 minutes, the nerve stops carrying pain signals. The body tends to try to re-grow nerves that are blocked in this manner but that process can take up to a year or longer.
How is Radiofrequency Lesion Procedure performed?
Since nerves cannot be seen on x-ray, the needles are positioned using bony landmarks that indicate where the nerves usually are. Once positioned appropriately, a fluoroscope (X-ray guidance machine) assists in identifying the specific area to be treated. The area is cleaned and the skin is numbed.
The special radiofrequency needle is inserted under X-ray guidance next to the pain fibers in your spine. The microelectrode is then inserted through the needle to begin the stimulation process. The object of the stimulation process is to help determine if the electrode is in the optimum area for treatment, thus producing the best relief. The small radiofrequency current will travel through the electrode and into the surrounding tissue, causing the tissue to heat and eliminate the pain pathways.
The procedure disrupts nerve conduction (such as conduction of pain signals), and it may in turn reduce pain, and other related symptoms. Patients generally get a good block of the intended nerve. This helps relieve that part of the pain that the blocked nerve controls. Sometimes after a nerve is blocked, it becomes clear that there is pain from the other areas as well. Patient is able to return to your work the next day. Sometimes a rest of two to three days is also advised.
Is the procedure for me?
Radiofrequency Lesion Procedure is offered to patients with certain types of low back or neck pain, usually pain from the facet joints. It blocks pain signals for a prolonged period of time; though, the human body may regenerate the pain pathways over time. It is not unusual that the procedure may need to be repeated, but most patients report long lasting relief than with other spinal injections.