Facet Injections & Radiofrequency Ablation Overland Park, Kansas

Treatments & Procedures
Facet Injections & Radiofrequency Ablation Overland Park, Kansas
A lumbar RFA is a procedure that uses radio waves to stop the lumbar medial branch nerve from transmitting pain signals from the injured facet joint to the brain. The procedure calls for a needle to be inserted through the skin and guided with X-ray to the correct site overlying the medial branch nerve. Prior to doing the ablation, the more “permanent” of the two procedures, patients will undergo two diagnostic nerve blocks of the facet joints to confirm that their pain is coming from the facet joints. If both nerve blocks help, then the medial branch nerves will be “ablated” or disconnected, using radiofrequency.

What are facet joints?

Facet joints are paired structures at the back of each vertebra (spinal column bones). The facet joints, like other joints in the body, form a working motion unit that allows movement between two vertebrae. The term “lumbar” refers to the lower part of the back. “Cervical” refers to the neck, and “thoracic” refers to the mid-back. Similar to the shoulder or knee joints, facet joints are surrounded by a capsule that bathes the moving parts in lubricating fluid.”

Why do facet joints become painful?

When a facet joint is injured, pain signals from the facet joints travel along sensory nerves called the medial branches to the spinal cord and then to the brain. The injury may involve the cartilage (slippery covering of the ends of bones), the capsule, or the ligaments that surround the joint and connect it to the other parts of the spine.

Additionally, the joint injury/pain may also cause muscle spasms through a natural reflex action. The location of the pain depends upon which facet joint has been injured.

Radiofrequency ablation of the spinal facet joints is a minimally invasive method that uses radio waves to stop signals coming from the medial branch nerves of the facet joints in the spine. When a facet joint in the spine is damaged, pain signals are sent from the injured joints along the medial branch nerves to the spinal cord and then on to the brain. Radiofrequency ablation of these nerves stops signal transduction of pain signals to the spinal cord and brain, and in turn, eliminates the sensation of pain.

Radiofrequency ablation of the spinal facet joints offers patients effective results for back pain with less pain, less bleeding, and a shorter recovery period than traditional procedures. This procedure is performed for medical and cosmetic purposes under local or general anesthesia. Radiofrequency ablation is usually performed in an hour or less.

Benefits of Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency treatment offers benefits over other treatment methods. These potential benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Speed of Procedure
  • Short recovery time
  • Minimal Discomfort
  • Little-to-No Scarring or Bruising

Risks of Radiofrequency Ablation

While radiofrequency ablation is considered a safe procedure, there are certain risks associated with any type of surgical treatment. Some of the risks of this procedure may include:


  • Numbness
  • Infection
  • Failure of Procedure

Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure

During the radiofrequency ablation, a needle is advanced to the medial branch nerves of the facet joint using X-Ray guidance. Once the needle is placed properly, the nerve is heated using high-frequency radio waves until the nerve is unable to send signals to the brain and spinal cord. Following the procedure, patient’s are monitored in the office for about 30 minutes.

Recovery from Radiofrequency Ablation

After the radiofrequency procedure, patients may experience mild bruising and swelling in the treated area, but are usually able to return to your regular activities shortly after treatment.

The results of the radiofrequency ablation treatment are usually visible within a week or two after treatment, at which point symptoms tend to subside as well.

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