What is Rhizotomy and Is It Right for Me?

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What is Rhizotomy and Is It Right for Me?

About 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, according to statistics from the American Academy of Pain Medicine. Of those, nearly half, almost 50 million, have pain in the back or neck. Chronic pain can be debilitating, taking a toll on physical health and mobility as well as psychological and emotional well-being. That sounds grim, but there is some good news: Advances in pain therapy, specifically spine-related treatments, have resulted in new, minimally invasive approaches to back and neck pain that offer long-term relief without major surgery. Rhizotomy is one minimally invasive procedure that’s been very successful in helping patients relieve painful symptoms without the need for invasive surgical procedures.

How does rhizotomy work?

Most back and neck pain is caused by nerves where they exit the spine at the joints (called facet joints) located between the spine bones. If the nerves become irritated or compressed, they can transmit pain signals on an ongoing or continual basis to the brain. Rhizotomy uses radiofrequency energy to “desensitize” these nerves, interrupting pain signals and preventing them from reaching the brain.

During a rhizotomy procedure, a needle equipped with a tiny electrode is inserted in the spine near the source of pain. A special x-ray device is used to precisely position the needle in the correct location, then the electrode is heated. It’s this targeted heat energy that deadens the nerve fibers to prevent pain signal transmission. Rhizotomy can be performed using a local anesthetic, sometimes combined with an oral sedative to help keep you relaxed, and you can return home right after the procedure.

How can I tell if rhizotomy is right for me?

The first step in deciding if a rhizotomy could be helpful in relieving your symptoms is to have a comprehensive evaluation of your spine and a review of your symptoms and your medical history. Once these steps are complete, facet joint injections are often recommended to “test out” the potential effectiveness of a rhizotomy procedure.

These injections work in a similar way as a rhizotomy, using medications to temporarily block nerve signals from a specific area of the spine so painful symptoms are relieved. If facet joint injections are successful in providing temporary relief for your symptoms, there’s a very good chance desensitizing those same nerves with a rhizotomy procedure will yield the same results, but on a permanent basis.


Find out more about rhizotomy and other minimally invasive options.

Don’t let neck or back pain interfere with your enjoyment of life. Today’s minimally invasive treatment approaches mean you can find long-term and even permanent meaningful relief from pain without major surgery and prolonged recovery periods.

At Southern Laser Spine, Dr. Alexander offers the most innovative and effective treatment options specifically tailored to the medical and lifestyle needs of patients throughout the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas. To learn more about rhizotomy and other treatment options, call Southern Laser Spine at 305-901-1268 and schedule a free phone consultation today.



Topics: Back Pain Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Neck Pain Spine Surgery