What is facet joint ablation?
Facet joints are part of the vertebrae in your spine. Their job is to provide range of motion so you can bend and twist your back. Each of these joints has small nerve endings that communicate signals between the joints and your brain. One of these signals is pain.
The goal of facet joint ablation is to sever this pain signal by burning the nerve endings in the facet joints with electricity. Facet joint ablation does not involve the use of any incisions. Instead, the surgeon will use a thin needle to pinpoint the nerve ending with guidance from X-ray imaging.
The surgeon can transmit a small radiofrequency current through the needle once the correct nerve ending is located. After this, the needle is removed, a bandage is placed over the incision point and the procedure is complete.
What are the benefits of facet joint ablation?
Facet joint ablation offers many advantages since it’s a minimally invasive procedure. These advantages include:
- It’s quick — The procedure is usually finished within an hour or two. Many patients can return home the same day. However, some may need to stay overnight to monitor their condition.
- It’s less painful — Since the procedure involves no incisions through the muscles and soft tissue, there is little pain during recovery. The procedure itself isn’t too painful either. That’s why it can usually be performed using sedation instead of anesthesia, which comes with risks.
- It produces long-term results — People who undergo facet joint ablation can regain range of motion and live life with less back pain for a long time after the procedure.