The anatomy and physiological function of the spine is the key in evaluating a person with spine-related pain. The bony spine is positioned so that individual vertebrae (bones of the spine) provide a flexible support structure while also protecting the spinal cord. The facet joints of the spine are a moveable connection that connects one vertebra to another. Facets are innervated by the medial branch nerve, which provide sensation to the joint. The joints may become arthritic or damaged causing extreme pain with activity. Medial branch nerves are small nerve branches that communicate pain to the brain caused by the facet joints in the spine. The nerve is located at the junction of the transverse process and superior articular process of the facet joint. Medial branch radiofrequency ablation is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure that reduces back pain by interrupting the nerve supply from painful facet joints in the neck or back (Murtagh 2006).
Most nerves control both sensation and movement in a portion of the body. When destroying nerves, it is vital that we do not destroy motor nerves that supply important muscles. For the most part we can treat nerves that either do not have any motor function or nerves that supply muscles that we can do without. There are many nerves in the neck, face and chest region that can be treated using radiofrequency. A similar but non-destructive technique called pulsed radiofrequency denervation can sometimes be used to provide relief from pain that involves nerves with both significant sensory and motor function.
If you received IV sedation do not drive or operate machinery for at least 24 hours after the procedure. You can return to work the next day following your procedure. You may resume your normal diet immediately. Do not engage in any strenuous activity for 24 hours. Do not take a bath, swim, or use a hot tub for 24 hours (you may take a shower). Call the office if you have any of the following: severe pain afterwards (different than your usual symptoms), redness/swelling/discharge at the injection site(s), fevers/chills, difficulty with bowel or bladder functions.