What Is Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy?

There are a number of factors that have been associated with cervical pain that arises in the neck and upper back region. In fact, previous estimates have suggested that more than two-thirds of adults can expect to have some form of neck or back pain during their lifetime. In most cases, direct trauma or injury, muscle strain, pinched nerve, or even a herniated or slipped intervertebral disc can cause pain in the cervical region.

Several treatments are available and most are regarded as non-surgical and minimally invasive. One of these treatment options is cervical facet radiofrequency neurotomy. In fact, radiofrequency neurotomy of the cervical facet joint is regarded as one of the most commonly employed treatments for pain that arises from the cervical facet joint.

Cervical-Facet-Radiofrequency-Neurotomy-4Previous studies have supported cervical facet radiofrequency neurotomy as effective in reducing the severity or even eliminating neuropathic pain. Studies examining the long-term effects of this treatment have revealed that patients report being free from debilitating symptoms of pain and discomfort for 15 months or more. Additionally, half of the patients examined in these studies reported being free from symptoms for two years.

How Is Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy Performed?

The facet joints of the body are located on the posterior sides of the spinal column. Most of the facet joints within the body have a decreased range of motion given their shape. Facet joints that are found in the neck and upper back area are known as cervical facet joints. Cervical facet joints have a somewhat different shape and, therefore, have a broader range of motion. When the structures of these joints become damaged or injured, the result is inflammation, joint stiffness, soreness, and even pain. Generally, these symptoms are limited to the neck and upper back area.

Within the nervous system, the spinal cord is the primary pathway by which information travels from the peripheral areas of the body to the brain. Given its crucial role in overall bodily function, the spinal cord must remain highly protected. Thus, it is surrounded by a durable membrane that is also surrounded by a bony structure known as the spinal column. Branching off of the spinal cord are medial nerves that transmit sensory information and provide muscle control to the facet joints.

Though the exact function of cervical facet radiofrequency neurotomy is not fully understood, it is believed to be effective in decreasing cervical facet joint pain by inhibiting the function of the medial nerves.

The procedure is regarded as relatively safe. It can be conducted on an