Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

burning the nerve roots, successful?

Kaleigh31KKaleigh31 Posts: 7
edited 12/07/2013 - 6:02 AM in Pain Management
I have multiple issues going on (details in my bio I believe) and have had 2 series of epidural spinal injections plus 2 series of facet joint injections. Now am moving on to "diagnostic injections" to see if burning the nerve roots (Rhizotomy?) would be a good choice for me.
I am sick of being in pain. My boss is on my back about missing work and I am barely putting one foot in front of the other. They don't like me taking any time off for these injections and scans, but what can I do? If I don't get the pain under control, I cannot continue to work.

So, if you've had the procedure, I'd love to hear about it!
L4, L5 Degenerative Spondylolisthesis, grade 2. Spinal Stenosis. Radiculopathy.
2+ years of injections, meds, therapy, chiropractic and massage. Next step laminectomy and posterior spinal fusion.


  • Hi,

    Welcome to Spine Health.

    I have had several (many) rhyzotomies and did not have a lot of success with them. Some people get results, sometimes up to 6 months or longer. Everyone is different. Back when I had mine they were quite painful but I hear that there is a new not as painful process.

    I tried it all, prolotherapy, rhyzotomy, injections, accupuncture, manipulation. Nothing really worked. I had 3 back fusions to deal with problems with my spine (it was collapsing). I finally had cortisone injections in my SI joint (which had also been involved in my being knocked unconscious by a snowboarder). I had success with the injections and 2 successful injections is the gold standard for SI joint dysfunction. The SI joint is not well known but is a big joint.

    I ended up having both fused with a new process called IFuse which is minimally invasive and half the recovery time than open surgery. It was amazing how immediate the pain ended.

    Try the rhyzotomy, you may be one of the ones who it works for. You never know.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Hi Kalleigh,
    Rhizotomies are done to burn the nerve fibers in the facet joints when the facets are the cause of the pain. This is done after a series of test injections to confirm the source of the pain, so that the doctor can determine whether the procedure would be helpful to the patient.
    Patients who have them done generally get good to excellent pain relief from 6 months to a year or more of the procedure, and the good news is that when the nerve fibers return, the procedure can be repeated indefinately if it works.
    Generally, if the test injections offer pain relief, then the rhizotomy will as well.
  • I am going in Tuesday for the diagnostic injections, hope they help and I can move on to the rhizotomy. Need something to help.
    My main source of pain seems to be the SI joint and the nerve pain from there through L4. There is so much arthritis and bone spurs that they are having a hard time getting the injections in to the right places. Hope they can get this to work :/
    L4, L5 Degenerative Spondylolisthesis, grade 2. Spinal Stenosis. Radiculopathy.
    2+ years of injections, meds, therapy, chiropractic and massage. Next step laminectomy and posterior spinal fusion.
  • ajgaajg Posts: 9
    edited 12/08/2013 - 12:53 PM
    I have had 20+ epidural injections/blocks in every single crevice that they could find since last August due to falling on my tailbone in my garage in July 2012 shortly after a lumbar back fusion, and that included a Rhizotomy. For me, it did nothing at all. I thought that if they burned the nerves, the pain HAD to go away but for some reason, it did not and has not. I am not saying it would not work for you but you asked if someone had experience. Also, I was anesthesia for each and every one, I was not going to want to see or feel any needles going into my back. Except for a diagnostic injection, which I would rather shoot myself in the knee than have one again. But that is just me. I wish you well.

    PS, I actually feel better that I am now on this forum. I feel that hearing other's stories makes me feel that I am not alone. The one thing I am immediately recognizing is that everyone is different and reacts differently than others might. Up to now, I felt like I was going crazy and was my doctors worst patient. I don't feel that right now. Thanks
  • Helen3Helen3 Posts: 205
    edited 12/08/2013 - 12:54 PM
    Last month I had nerve block for. Cervical issues. I think it work...I still have pains an pressures but its different than before.

    Is burning an blocking the same thing?
  • a few years ago i went in to get an injection and i felt this incredible burning pain which i never felt before. the dr said he did something to my nerve but did not say specifically. i believe he did something to deaden the nerve. i am not sure if i had this procedure or not. he did not tell me or did i ask to have it but it sure hurt and burned bad. last, it did not help whatever he did to me. the guy retired so i can't ask him. was this the rizo procedure that was done?
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I had both sides done, neither of which worked.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 12/09/2013 - 9:36 AM
    then the facets were not the cause of the pain you were experiencing. Did you undergo the test injections first to see if they would deaden the pain?
  • I'm sort of the exception where facet joint injections work for me usually up to about 5-6 months, but then I have to get another series. I had the rhizotomy done a couple different times and they didn't provide much relief. I will not go through it again knowing I don't get good, long term relief from it. To me it felt like someone whooped the crap out of my back for several days after the procedure.
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I've had it done a number of times and had some really good results. Sometimes I could forget a I had a back problem for up to 8 months. (No meds and no visits with pain management). Eventually they quit working for me; I had surgery earlier this year, but would definitely have it done again if another issue pops up.
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
  • I have had the procedure many times too, it did offer immediate, short term relief. Between those procedures I also received injections, which also provided me comfort. But with that being said everyone is different, and what works for one may not help another. If I had health coverage I would continue to get these procedures. Best of luck to you
  • SpinSpinSugarSSpinSpinSugar Posts: 15
    edited 12/27/2013 - 4:28 AM
    Had them done. Those have been keeping me away from fusion. I get great relief. Not 100% but I can work and function with help of tremadol and celebrex. Without facet burning I can't even stay up for more than few minutes and I walk shifted to the left side looking like an 90 year old man

    I design your spine
  • SpinSpinSugarSSpinSpinSugar Posts: 15
    edited 12/27/2013 - 4:24 AM
    By the way, I'm going in for another round in January. I get both sides on S1, L5, L4. Last time I had them were Feb 2013 so almost a full year but there are kicking back in
    I design your spine
  • I'm sorry I've been away so long. I did end up having the Rhizotomy procedure on L2 through L5. It helped for my low back pain, mostly at least.
    I'm still having severe pain on the left side of my very low back/SI that goes in to my hip and hamstring. We've done two more sets of facet/epidural injections with minimal relief (a couple weeks or less of 50% pain relief) and 2 sets of SI injections with minimal relief (a couple of weeks of 20% pain relief)
    I'm still doing chiro/massage therapy (max'd my 30 visit insurance coverage last month) and physical therapy (mostly stretching). Increased to 300mg Lyrica daily and 800mg IB 1-3 x day.
    The pain and hamstring tightness still limit my daily functioning and I ended up losing my job. Thinking of moving to the L4/L5 fusion because I desperately want my active life back
    L4, L5 Degenerative Spondylolisthesis, grade 2. Spinal Stenosis. Radiculopathy.
    2+ years of injections, meds, therapy, chiropractic and massage. Next step laminectomy and posterior spinal fusion.
  • I am getting the nerves burnt on my L4-L5 joint. When they did the test injections I got almost 100% relief on the left side and about 70% on the right side. I thought for a long time that I was a one of a kind type of back problem. I am so glad to see that I am not alone. I just joined this forum and will post how the procedure goes tomorrow afternoon once I am done. Keep me in your prayers!!!
  • Pgram1964PPgram1964 Posts: 1
    edited 03/16/2015 - 7:40 AM
    My back is fried, & the pain meds have worked for yrs. Now Ive moved to Dallas & had to go to a Pain Management Dr, to get the meds, but he will only give me hydrocodone. In order for him to continue the pain meds I have to get nerves burned, no exceptions. Ive heard & read it could work for a short period or not. If the pain meds I was taking worked, Metrhadone 10 mg, why not stay with what worked? If it works for 3-6 months,thats not logical bc thats about how long Id have to taper off the hydrocodoone. Ive been taking pain meds for 18 yrs, & if they grow back I have to start taking pain meds again, or another procedure? The cost for that period is less taking meds. But It is scheduled for the 26th, & I have no option. I think I should have the option, but Im praying it works bc I want my active outdoor life back! Id appreciate any comments or helpful information especially if someone is from Dallas & knows another DR that would give me what works if the procedure doesnt work. Thanks and God bless. Be well friends! Phillip

    Forum rules prohibit anyone to make recommendations regarding specialists on the forum.
    Spine-health moderator

  • my only problem with this procedure is the massive inconveninence, plus difficulty in getting help from someone in order to have it done. I recently moved to a new(to me) part of the country. Although I have made a lot of friends, like most folks, they have lives and have to work and or take care of their home or children during the day at least. My husband passed away a number of years ago, and let's face it, most employers will allow a person some leaway in allowing them to take time off to take care of the medical needs of a spouse, child, or parent. Plus, even though you may have friends who have employers that would allow them to do this for a friend.. most of us already have obligations to family and even our own health needs that we just can't afford to take the time off for a friend's needs as well. I can do this from time to time, because since I retired, I run a small number of home based businesses, and therefore can make my own hours most of the time. For me, when I had these done, they worked great, and like you - they lasted a VERY long time. often as long as a year. But, the nerves do regenerate - and they are either moved over or replaced by new ones that are once again, effected by the source of our pain. For me, I had been in one really severe, and two other severe car wrecks, plus one accident falling down a flight of stairs(anecdotally, none of the car wrecks were caused by me - i was always the one HIT). It has been over a 30 year journey for me, but now I have 2 missing discs from my back, replaced by hip bone, fused with plates and six HUGE screws. in my neck, I had two discs removed and replaced with bone, but fused with a long term collar to hold them in place until they healed. Luckily, I am ONLY 4 inches shorter(I was already short), my hip bones are now where my waist should be which limits the kind/types of exercises I can do etc. I also was hit again about two years ago, which detached BOTH rotator cuffs, split the muscles in two - and despite surgery(Which the surgeon warned may not take).. they did not take, so I have two detached rotator cuffs as well. I had to give away my chin lift bar, I can no longer do any kind of running or high or even medium impact excercise. I feel this way - I AM VERY LUCKY THAT I can still walk. On top of this, a vertebrae above the fusion cracked, and by the time I decided to have it rechecked - it had completely (slowly over time) broken in two - but - it fused itself to the other half of the vertebrae - but now I have a vertebrae that feels like a growth if you touch it - and is almost 'bent' in half, so lost another amount of height there as well. The pain, as I also suffer from fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and psoriatic arthritis, is often unbearable. I have a lot of pain meds, but because (mainly, I luckily do not have an addiction problem) when you take them, they do not just kill the pain, they also make you groggy and pretty much unproductive to say the least, I try my best to not take them.

    The radiofrequency really worked for me, but as you know if you have tried it - you have to take a trip to the doctor's office, generally fast for the night before, be put under a mild anesthetic so you are awake, but don't feel as much... then let the docs play 'whack a mole' using a scope so they(and you) can see your spine, and all the nerves on a screen until they find the two or so nerves that are causing the pain. The first time, they use a cortisone shot, which lasts about a day or two, and if you DO get relief, they will then schedule the RF burn of the nerves within another week or two. if you do not get relief, its back for round two of the test treatment with the cortisone until they find the right ones. So, this means you HAVE to have a driver who is willing to sit in the doctor's waiting room(possibly allowed to leave for an hour or so to get something to eat, but they have to sign papers to ensure they will come back for you).. this can mean basically one to three full or half days off of work for your friend or relative.

    So, for me, for now, I have not been able to schedule this procedure, as everyone I do know(since my husband passed) has work and family obligations, school etc.. and simply can't do it. I tried using a cab company once, after twisting the arm of my doctor's office, and that was a disaster - and very very expensive - the guy never showed back up to get me after the procedure, so as it was already almost 5 pm at that time, I was able to get a friend to come and get me but the office staff had to wait(not a popular patient that day).

    Okay, that being said - lately i have been looking into alternatives. I have had a tens unit for many years, and although it is not a pleasant treatment, and I am just now restarting using it - I THINK that putting the pads on the areas that hurt SEEM to 'confuse'(not sure how it works really) the nerves or move them around enough, so the ones sending the pain signals move away from where the problem is, and I sometimes get relief for a few hours to maybe a day if I am lucky. I don't like using it, as it hurts, and the higher the frequency I can tolerate the better results I get.

    Again, luckily I can still walk, but only with a great deal of back pain if I do not do something to alleviate the nerve pain that does not involve drugs. All the excercises I loved, high to medium impact aerobics, strength training(I can only use up to 1 lb. weights after the rotator cuff injuries).. are now out of the question. I use the 'Lesley Sanson' Walk Away the Pounds DVDs, but even with those, I have to modify my movements to ensure the least amount of impact. small hand or wrist weights, walking, and a 'standing ab' training DVD I had difficulty finding, as crunches are out of the question for me.
    IT is pretty much a full time job..

    Again, cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am, that despite all of this, I am still able to walk. I enjoy walking when I can get rid of the pain before I go.. but that is difficult at best.

    My next step will be to try and find a good acupuncturist and try that out - some folks swear by it. Yoga is not for me - I either have to modify the movements so much to accommodate my injuries that they are not effective, or - truthfully I have no patience for any exercise that forces me to think 'slow down'.. I get quite frustrated. Hey, it is great, but not for everyone.

    Since I now live in Asheville, NC which is one of the most liberal and 'artsy-fun' cities in the world(sort of like Portland).. there are plenty of alternative therapy clinics around.. but not always easy to find one that is either affordable for a person on Social Security, or whether or not my Medicare will pay for it or not is a big factor.

    I would love to join any political movement to get Medicare and all insurance companies to cover things like massage and acupuncture etc. as they definitely cut back drastically on the use of potentially addictive pain meds, and often eliminate the need.

    But since the pharma companies have more lobbying money than whoever represents the alternative medicine people - the chances are slim..

    If anyone has any other suggestions I am open to it. I have been a vegetarian(not vegan, tried it for over a year and I was sick all the time).. eat mostly organic whenever possible, quit smoking almost four decades ago - and have a generally healthy and educated life style. I see all the specialists for my various concerns I need to, take prescription and non prescription(vitamins and hollistic treatments) as instructed, have made sure to use doctors that accept both as part of a health plan.. and do TONS of research. So - that is where I stand now. I have in past tried every diet known or thought of as helpful, and have finally landed where I am now, which seems to work the best for me. I had gastric surgery a number of years ago, so I can no longer take any of the OTC or prescription anti inflammatories that helped me the MOST(like Aleve or the generic thereof).. because my stomach is now too small to handle the amount of acid produced with those. I am only allowed to take Tylenol(or generic) and for me, does virtually nothing.. I am just surprised how LITTLE pharma has done to try and develop an OTC medication that has the effects of an Aleve - without the stomach lining burning side effect..

    Anyway - trying the tens unit again, will see what happens and keep in touch.

    Thanks for listening to me, I needed that probably more than anything else today.

  • Hi, I'm new to this. I have had Rhyzotomies done before and I was awake the whole time with just some local anesthetic. Hurt like hell. But I pushed though anyway.  I had my regular Doctor doing one side while a new guy did the other. The other guy just about killed me before he could find the right place while my doctor was there on the first try. Unfortunately, I did not have any relief and have tried everything besides surgery. So I'm going to try it one more time. It will be a risky surgery  for me because I have a serious heart disease.  I pray it works this time so I don't have to have surgery 
  • I'm sorry I miss spoke last time. I only had local numbing. I was not put out or pain free. I didn't have to fast the night before. Just go in that day and get it done. It took about 45min.
Sign In or Register to comment.