Facet joint denervation

Facet joint denervation is the process of deadening the medial branch nerves that send pain signals to the brain from a dysfunctional facet joint. Facet joints, which are the knobby surfaces where vertebrae join together, can begin to break down after years of use. Nerve irritation is a common byproduct of facet joint deterioration. This pain, whether alone or accompanied by related symptoms, can be very disruptive to your life, taking you away from your loved ones or even just a walk in the park. Finding the right treatment can help you regain an active lifestyle, so it is important to partner with your doctor to explore all options.

Why the facet joints deteriorate

Each individual vertebra in the spine has a set of facet joint surfaces on the right and left sides. Conditions like facet joint osteoarthritis can cause cartilage around facet joints to wear away. Without the smooth cartilage in place, bone surfaces rub directly against each other. The resulting friction can irritate a facet joint’s medial branch nerves, causing chronic pain. Besides nerve irritation, many patients dealing with facet arthritis also experience the following symptoms:

  • Local pain
  • Joint stiffness and limited mobility
  • Radiating symptoms, like tingling or numbness, into the arms and legs

Minimally invasive facet joint denervation

Since medial branch nerves only transmit sensory signals and not motor signals they can be safely removed. Once the inflamed medial branch nerves are gone, the pain goes away while the facet joints remain fully functional.

Laser Spine Institute offers a minimally invasive outpatient facet joint denervation procedure called a facet thermal ablation. During this procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision in the affected area of the spine and uses a laser to deaden the nerves feeding into the damaged facet joint.

If you would like to find out more about the benefits of facet joint denervation, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We also perform minimally invasive decompression, and in severe cases, minimally invasive stabilization surgery, that can treat the symptoms of spinal arthritis and facet disease at the source. Our surgeons are able to use smaller incisions to access the spine, leading to a quicker recovery and less risk of complication^ compared to traditional open back surgery.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive procedures, reach out to our Care Team today for a no-cost MRI review.*