RFN / RF / RFR (Radiofrequency rhizotomy or radiofrequency neurotomy) is a procedure designed to decrease or eliminate pain coming from joints in the spine. Sometimes after injury, facet joints withing the spine degenerate and cause pain. RF / RFN destroys the nerves transmitting the pain from the affected facet joints. When the nerves are destroyed, the nerve no longer sends a pain signal to the brain, and the patient gets relief. Patients sometimes call this procedure a “nerve burning.”
Often, doctors will say that everyone has degeneration in the spine (arthritis) with age. Over time all joints degenerate and become arthritic. But, most people never have pain associated with their joint degeneration (arthritis), and therefore do not care if they have arthritic joints. If they have no pain, there is no reason to worry. The problem comes after an accident. It is common for an accident to cause a joint to become painful. Without the accident, the joint would have remained pain-free.
The testing before an RFN / RF procedure and the actual radiofrequency rhizotomy or radiofrequency neurotomy procedure is expensive and time consuming. The procedures often must be repeated, adding to the expense and inconvenience. However, the procedures are worth every penny if they give pain relief to the patient.
Often, the patient will have a neck or back MRI, spinal facet injections – anesthetic and steroid injections, and possibly discography before having an RF rhizotomy procedure. These procedures help the doctor determine where your pain is coming from. If you respond well to the temporary prodecures – anesthetic and steroid injections, then the doctor knows where to perform the RFR or RFN.
The actual nerve “burning” is done by applying heat to the nerve through a very thin needle electrode for approximately 60 seconds. A specialist checks the placement of the needle with an x-ray camera, and watches with a t.v. monitor. The procedure may be repeated at multiple levels of the spine.
Immediately following the radiofrequency rhizotomy or radiofrequency neurotomy procedure, the patient’s usual symptoms may return for a week or more. The symptoms may be more severe than normal. However, a decrease in symptoms (the pain goes away) usually occurs 2-3 weeks after the procedure.
The personal injury attorneys at the Stowman Law Firm, P.A., can help after someone is hurt in an accident. Many of our clients have undergone RFN or RF procedures. This procedure is often a last resort, but if it gives relief from pain, it is worth every penny!