Radiofrequency (RF) Neurotomy

Radiofrequency (RF) Neurotomy

Aching joints are not just the result of changes in the weather. For many individuals, joint pain can worsen over time, leaving them with the inability to do the things they enjoy doing. If you are suffering from nerve and joint pain especially related to your spine, our New York City doctors can help you. Our team offers a wide range of advanced treatment options for joint pain. One of the options available to you is radiofrequency neurotomy. Could this be the treatment for your debilitating pain that’s limiting your quality of life? For many, it is exactly the best solution.

When Can Radiofrequency Neurotomy Help?

When you come in to see our pain management doctors in NYC, our first goal is to understand why you are suffering from pain as well as to understand how severe the pain is. Most people have underlying complications related to the alignment and positioning of the spinal column. In some cases, this isn’t improved with over-the-counter medications or physical therapy. But, with the use of heat, we may be able to make changes to the structural composition of your spinal column and reduce the pain you feel. For some people, this can be life changing.

Should You Try Something New for Your Pain?

Radiofrequency neurotomy may sound like a complex procedure, but in fact, it takes only about 20 minutes to complete and lets you go home the same day. If you’ve been suffering with pain for a long time, perhaps even difficulty moving, you can continue to live the way you are and suffer as a result, or you can reach out to our NYC spine surgery doctors to learn more about this non-invasive, highly effective treatment option.

Radiofrequency (RF) neurotomy, also called radiofrequency rhizotomy, is performed to manage cervical or lumbar facet joint pain.  RF neurotomy is a type of spinal nerve injection therapy that uses heat to disrupt joint pain signals.  Dr. Jose Colon, MD may recommend a neurotomy when a specific facet joint nerve is identified by prior diagnostic spinal injection.  If the facet joint nerve cannot send a pain signal to the brain, you do not perceive pain in that joint.

  • Radiofrequency neurotomy utilizes radio wave technology.  Radio waves generate safe levels of heat and disables the facet nerve without harm to adjacent structures.  Often, two spinal levels are treated.  The entire procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • The results of RF neurotomy can provide relief from facet joint pain for a year or longer.  Eventually, the facet joint nerve root regenerates—it grows back.  Facet joint pain may return, and Dr. Colon may recommend a repeat procedure.

Procedure preparation

Dr. Colon and his medical staff provide specific written instructions well in advance of your procedure appointment.  It may be necessary for you to stop taking certain medications before RF neurotomy.  Dr. Colon and his medical staff are available to discuss your concerns or answer questions.  We are here to help you!

About the procedure

RF neurotomy is performed in a sterile setting.  After you change into a gown and lie down, medications are given intravenously (IV) to relax you.  In the procedure suite, you are comfortably positioned on the treatment table.  A cushion is placed either under your chest—for cervical neurotomy or abdomen, for lumbar neurotomy.  The skin area is cleansed using a sterile soap.  A local anesthetic is injected and numbs the skin and underlying tissues.  Dr. Colon keeps you comfortable during the entire procedure.

Fluoroscopy (real-time x-ray) is used for precise guide needle placement.  A small electrode is carefully guided to the target nerve and heated to cauterize (burn) the nerve.  The electrode and needle is removed and the skin area is covered by a small bandage.

After neurotomy

In the recovery area, your vital signs are closely monitored.  Before releasing you home, we provide written home-care instructions, including information about resuming medications.

Dr. Colon, or a member of his medical staff telephones you the day after your procedure to follow up. We encourage you to keep a pain journal to record any discomfort, pain or other symptoms.  Your notes help our doctors measure your response to the RF neurotomy procedure.