The Facet Joint Ablation Experts

Facet joint ablation, also referred to as facet radiofrequency ablation, is a procedure used to purposefully disrupt nerves in your spinal column that provide sensation to spinal joints called facets. This intentional tissue ablation helps relieve facet joint-related pain (facet joint disease) by blocking the nerves’ ability to relay pain signals to your brain.

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What is a Facet Joint Ablation?

facet joint ablation

Facet joint ablation is a procedure that purposefully disrupts nerves in a spinal column that provides sensation to spinal joints.

Facet Joint Ablation Procedure Essentials

Patient Satisfaction. Very High
Does It Require an Overnight Stay? No
Incision Size. None
Purpose. Diagnosis and pain relief of up to one year.

Physicians Who Perform Facet Joint Ablation

North American Spine partner physicians are board-certified, minimally invasive specialists in facet joint ablation and other related procedures. They are among the best in the field, and many have served as teachers of the next generation of minimally invasive specialists.

Unlike at most practices, North American Spine partner physicians may collaborate on a complex procedure to ensure that all the required skill and knowledge is brought to the case. But perhaps the most telling fact of all is this: 97% of patients say they would recommend their doctor to a friend.

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Benefits of Facet Joint Ablation

Roughly 70 percent of people who undergo radiofrequency ablation experience significant reductions in their nerve-related pain symptoms. Depending on your individual circumstances, the procedure can disrupt pain signaling in the targeted nerves for anywhere from 3 months to more than a year and a half. However, most people who benefit from the procedure experience symptom relief that lasts for approximately six to nine months. Eventually, your medial branch nerves will heal and start producing pain signals again if the health of your facet joints has not improved. If necessary, your doctor can repeat facet nerve ablation and provide you with additional periods of symptom relief.


Details of Facet Joint Ablation

Your facet joints form connection points for the sections of your spinal bones (vertebrae) that sit behind your spinal canal. They help your spinal column withstand the forces of gravity and allow you to maintain normal range of back motion. Medial branch nerves, which are connected to the facet joints, supply sensation to the joints themselves. Unlike some of the other nerves in your body, the tiny medial branch nerves have limited processing abilities, and can only send pain signals to your brain when activated.

Facet joint nerve ablation is typically achieved through the application of focused radio waves, also called radiofrequency waves, to the tissues of the medial branch nerves. During an ablation procedure, your doctor will use X-ray imagery to guide a thin, hollow device called a cannula or introducer needle through your skin to the medial branch nerves associated with your damaged facet joint. After confirming proper placement of the cannula, he will pass a radiofrequency-conducting tip through its interior. Next, he will attach this tip to a machine that generates radio waves, then use the focused energy from these waves to burn the targeted nerves in bursts that last roughly 90 seconds. Typically, your doctor will ablate multiple areas on any given nerve in order to ensure it is fully desensitized.

Preparing for Facet Joint Ablation

Before receiving a facet joint ablation procedure, most physicians will require an MRI or CT-scan to get a better idea of what could be causing the pain. Often, physicians will first administer a type of injection called a Medial Branch Block, targeted specifically at the medial branch nerves at the facet joint, to determine whether an ablation is necessary. This injection may be administered once, or several times prior to moving on to a facet nerve ablation. A facet joint ablation is often just one portion of the conservative treatment method a physician may suggest to treat back or neck pain. Other methods include physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments. If these conservative methods have not produced meaningful, long-lasting relief, you may be a candidate for a surgical North American Spine procedure.

Facet Joint Ablation Recovery

Most patients will be able to return to normal activities the next day, though the procedural site may have some dull soreness. Side effects and risks are rare. Your physician will counsel you on these risks prior to the procedure and will provide additional recovery guidelines.

To determine if you are a candidate for a facet joint ablation, contact us anytime at 855.681.7480 or submit a form on this page.