Facet rhizotomy injection overview

A facet rhizotomy injection is a procedure that attempts to relieve neck or back pain associated with facet disease, or spinal arthritis, by using an electrical current to destroy local nerve fibers carrying pain signals from the affected joint to the brain. This procedure usually follows successful facet joint injections, which use cortisone to deaden an irritated joint nerve and relieve inflammation.

Patients who undergo a facet rhizotomy injection may have a variety of degenerative spine conditions, including facet disease, spinal stenosis or arthritis of the spine. While these conditions not always painful, they sometimes produce localized pain, radiating pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the areas of the body innervated by the affected nerve.

Areas of the body affected by facet joint disorders

The backbone consists of 33 stacked vertebrae — seven in the cervical (upper) region, 12 in the thoracic (middle) region, five in the lumbar (lower) region and nine fused vertebrae in the sacrum (pelvis) and coccyx (tailbone). Most of these vertebrae are connected at the facet joints, which occur in pairs on either side of the main vertebral body. While the spine is less mobile when compared to other joints in the body, years of bending and twisting can take a toll. The areas of the body affected by facet joint-related symptoms are related to the location in the spine of the joint degeneration:

  • Cervical facet joints – shoulders, upper back, arms, hands, fingers
  • Thoracic facet joints – ribcage, middle back, torso
  • Lumbar facet joints – lower back, buttocks, upper legs

After a condition affecting the facet joints in one of these regions, your doctor may recommend a facet rhizotomy injection in the joint that has been identified as being the source of symptoms.

When a facet rhizotomy injection is not enough

Because some nerves regenerate over time, there is a chance symptoms might return after a facet rhizotomy injection. Spine surgery can start to become an option if weeks or months of treatment have not brought relief. Laser Spine Institute’s orthopedic surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures to provide lasting relief from neck and back pain. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more.

Our caring and dedicated team will also be happy to help you receive a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.