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Lumbar is also known as the lower part of the back. Lumbar facet joints are the facet joints at the lower part of the back. Here we discuss the Lumbar Radio Frequency Ablation.

What is Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation?

Lumbar radiofrequency ablation is a nonsurgical procedure in which radiofrequency waves are used to burn the lumbar medial branch nerve that transmits pain signals from an injured facet joint to the brain.

When the facet joint is injured, the lumbar medial branch nerves are responsible for transmitting the pain signals to the brain. When the pain signal is transmitted to the brain, the individual starts to feel the pain.

A lumbar radiofrequency ablation is done with the aim of destroying or burning the nerve that is responsible for transmitting the pain signals to the brain. When the nerve is burnt, the transmission is obstructed and the individual won’t feel the pain anymore.

What is Lumbar Facet Joints?

The lumbar facet joints are the facet joints that are at the lower part of the back. The lower back is also referred to as the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine is the lower spine at the back that curves inward towards the abdomen. It connects with the thoracic spine at the top of the back and downwards towards the sacral spine.

The spine is also known as the vertebral column. Each vertebra is connected with another by a facet joint. The lumbar facet joint allows for twist and turn of the lower back. The lumbar facet joint also acts as a cushion between two vertebrae and prevent them from rubbing against each other.

Why do Lumbar facet joints become painful?

The lumbar facet joints are surrounded with nearby lumbar medial branch nerves that transmit sensations and pain signals from the lumbar facet joints to the brain. If the facet joint gets injured such as injury in the cartilage, capsule or ligaments surrounding the facet joints, the lumbar medial branch nerve will transmit the pain from the injured joint to the brain, informing the brain of an injury, which then makes the individual feel the pain. The location of the pain depends on the location of the facet joint that was injured.

How Lumbar facet joint pain is diagnosed?

If you feel pains at your lower back, it could be that you have developed lumbar facet joint pain. Doctors may conduct X-rays, MRI or CT scan to ascertain the location of the injured facet joint.

However, for Lumbar radiofrequency ablation to be done, the patient must first go through a successful lumbar facet nerve block injection procedure.

When a patient has been administered a lumbar facet nerve block injection and the pain successfully stopped for a while, the doctor will then know the nerve that is transmitting the pain.

A more long-term pain-relieving procedure, which is the lumbar radiofrequency ablation is then conducted.

Who is an ideal candidate for lumbar radiofrequency ablation?

Before undergoing Lumbar Radio Frequency Ablation, you must have undergone a successful lumbar facet nerve block injection procedure.

If the pain stopped after undergoing a lumbar facet joint procedure, then you are an ideal candidate for lumbar radiofrequency ablation. Other criteria include:

  • Don’t have an infection
  • Don’t have a bleeding problem
  • Don’t be on a blood-thinning medication
  • Don’t be allergic to any of the medications that will be used for the treatment.
  • Not allowed for pregnant women.

What to do before the procedure?

You are not allowed to eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before the commencement of the procedure. If you are on medication for blood thinning or medication that could cause excess bleeding, make sure you discuss it with your doctor before the procedure.

If you are on medication for high blood pressure or any other kind of heart condition, it is important that you take the medication before the procedure commences.

You need to have a very clean bath before coming to the hospital and you need to put on a free cloth and underwear. You need to be at the hospital for at least 30 minutes before the start of the procedure.

It is very important that you come with someone that will drive you back home on the day of the procedure because you are not allowed to drive after the procedure.

How the procedure is done?

First, you will need to lie down on your stomach on a procedure table. The doctor will then thoroughly clean the skin around the injection site.

A little protected needle or radiofrequency cannula is injected towards the nerves with fluoroscopic direction. The shaft of the cannula is secured with defensive protection so the electric flow just goes into the encompassing tissues from the very tip of the cannula.

At the point when the cannula seems to be in the right position, the doctor may play out a test and discharge a modest quantity of electric flow through the needle tip at two distinct frequencies.

This test affirms that the cannula tip is in nearness to the target nerve and that it isn’t close to some other nerve.

After an effective test affirms that the cannula is in the right position, a local anesthetic is injected to numb the surrounding area.

A radiofrequency wave is then used to heat the cannula tip for as long as 90 seconds, which then destroys the target nerve.

The procedure takes about 20-40 minutes to complete.

After the Procedure

After undergoing the treatment, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will need to lie down for about 30 minutes.

You will be monitored by a nurse, your blood pressure and pulse rate will be checked. You will be given instructions to follow and also a pain diary to record your recovery process.

Someone will need to drive you home. You can start your normal daily activities the next day.

Results of the Procedure

Patients that undergo Lumbar Radio Frequency Ablation have experienced pain relief for about 9 months to 2 years or more.

The pain may resurface as a result of the regrowth of the nerve that was destroyed. Nerve may regrow within 6-12 months after the procedure. In the case of nerve regrowth, the procedure may be repeated.


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