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Facet Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation

Why might a Facet Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation be needed?

If you have consistent back or neck pain and you are unaware of where this pain originates from, you may be recommended a facet radiofrequency thermocoagulation. The purpose of this procedure is to determine whether the pain you are experiencing originates from your facet joints. The facet joints are small joints that connect your spinal bones. The injection may help to relive pain, in which case your facet joints would be deemed the source of the pain.

You will generally be offered this procedure if you have already had a facet joint injection. The radiofrequency thermocoagulation will provide longer term pain relief than an injection.

spine pain

What are the risks with a Facet Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation?

Side effects from this procedure tend not to be severe, and mostly temporary. It is possible you may experience weakness in your legs due to the lower back injection, or sore skin around the injection area. Due to the heating involved in the procedure, you may feel small burns from the needle entry.

If you are worried about side effects, we will be accessible to you for further reassurance to discuss if what you are experiencing is normal.

How to prepare for a Facet Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation

Before the procedure we will make sure you feel as comfortable as possible. We will talk you through what will happen in your surgery, along with the risks and benefits. Your doctor will tell you which medicines you should either stop taking, or take, in the days leading up to the surgery.

You will also be instructed regarding eating or drinking prior to the surgery. You will have time to ask as many questions as you like to your surgeon on the day. We will give you access to our OneWelbeck app so that you are familiar with our site and your doctor before even arriving.

What will happen during my surgery?

This procedure is a day case and doesn’t take long. The doctor will clean the area of injection as you lie on your front. You will have local anaesthetic so that the area is numbed to any pain. The surgeon will guide the injection to the facet joints in the affected area using imaging equipment (such as x-ray/CT) to help them find the correct spot. When the needle is in the right place, the surgeon will start to apply radiofrequency waves that will heat the needle so it can destroy nerve endings.

What happens after a Facet Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation?

Once we’re sure that you are okay to leave after assessing for side effects, you will be able to go home. It is possible that you may experience numbness in your back or weakness in standing up. This should pass fairly quickly, but it is best to have someone with you to make sure you get home safely.

The pain you experience after the procedure may get worse as time goes by for the initial recovery period. We will recommend you painkillers to manage the pain. Your doctor will advise you on when you can get back to normal activity after the procedure.

Do you want to make an enquiry or book an appointment?

Information For GPs

If you are a GP and would like to refer a patient, ask a question or enquire about our education events, please visit our dedicated GP page, by clicking here.