A guide to the facet joint ablation procedure

Facet joint ablation is a procedure designed to deaden the nerves that carry pain signals directly to a facet joint. This procedure is beneficial for conditions like spinal osteoarthritis, which is the inflammation of the facet joints in the spine due to spinal arthritis.

Facet joints are crucial to the health of the spine. Connecting the vertebrae together, the facet joints act as a hinge, allowing vertebrae to pivot and slide against one another and enabling a wide range of movement in the neck and back. Facet joints are surrounded by small nerves called medial branch nerves. These nerves carry pain signals directly to the brain from the joints. If triggered, these nerves can cause severe pain that radiates from the spine into the extremities, sometimes even causing numbness or tingling.

Nerve compression due to facet joint disease

One condition that can trigger the medial branch nerves to signal pain is facet joint osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is inflammation caused by the wearing down of cartilage on joints, and when cartilage wears away, bones are left to rub directly on each other. Bone-on-bone rubbing of facet joints can inflame the medial branch nerves, resulting in intense facet joint pain.

Medial branch nerves can be surgically eliminated so that facet joint pain is reduced — yet the facet joints themselves will remain fully functional. The deadening of a medial branch nerve can be accomplished through a procedure called facet joint ablation. Laser Spine Institute offers a minimally invasive version of this procedure to patients dealing with symptoms of arthritis.

Facet thermal ablation at Laser Spine Institute begins with a small incision and a thorough cleaning of the arthritic joint. Next, a small laser is used to desensitize the medial branch nerves that travel near the affected joints. Through the use of muscle-sparing techniques, our facet joint ablation can be performed on an outpatient basis.

Reach out to Laser Spine Institute

If you would like more information about facet joint ablation, or would like to speak to the team at Laser Spine Institute about any other painful degenerative condition that is affecting your neck or back, contact us today. Our minimally invasive procedures have helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain.

We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to help you find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.