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Cervical or Thoracic Medial Branch RF Neurotomy

If your doctor determines that facet joints in your neck (cervical spine) or mid-back (thoracic spine) are causing neck pain, headache, or upper back pain, your doctor may recommend cervical or thoracic medial branch radiofrequency neurotomy (RF neurotomy) for long-term pain relief. This procedure can have several names, including:

The goal of RF neurotomy is to block the medial branch nerves from sending pain signals from the cervical or thoracic facet joints to the brain. If the nerves’ pain signals are blocked, your pain may be reduced.

How RF neurotomy works

The RF neurotomy procedure uses a small, controlled amount of radiofrequency energy to heat the medial branch nerve. If the nerve is heated for a certain length of time, it will lose the ability to send pain signals.

This procedure may decrease pain from the facet joints on a long-term basis. Pain relief varies from person to person. The pain relief can be as short as six months or can last several years. Typically, the relief lasts for 10 to 16 months.

Overview of the cervical or thoracic RF neurotomy procedure

Here’s what to expect during a cervical or thoracic RF neurotomy procedure:

Preparing for cervical or thoracic RF neurotomy

After the injection

Remember, you may have discomfort for a few weeks after the procedure. This discomfort should gradually disappear as you heal. After the procedure soreness is gone and you begin to resume normal activity, you will be able to evaluate the improvement in your pain. It may take up to six weeks to get full pain relief benefits from RF neurotomy.

Potential risks of RF neurotomy

The risks of RF neurotomy are minimal and are similar to any procedure involving a needle placement. These include, but are not limited to:

If your procedure includes sedation

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise

Summit’s spine care team is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.

Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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