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Cervical Rhizotomy

stevecripe57sstevecripe57 Posts: 10
edited 05/01/2015 - 10:26 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Has anyone had this procedure done? If so, can you tell me what to expect? I am scheduled next week to have 3 areas of one side of my neck injected to see if I get relief from pain. If this works, then he will do the burning of the medial cervical nerve, first on one side, then the other. I've had steroid injections in my neck and back, but not this type of thing. Thanks.


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  • MikethepikeMMikethepike Posts: 244
    edited 05/01/2015 - 12:25 PM
    does it help with nerve pain ?
    Also does it help with tight muscles?
  • egr78eegr78 Posts: 26
    edited 05/02/2015 - 8:02 AM
    Hi! I have had this done on c4 thru c6 About 5 months ago. I went thru the medial branch blocks (test injections) twice on both sides of the spinal column. The injections helped me enough to go thru with the burning of the nerves. Personally I think the procedure caused more pain for approx 3 weeks then it helped. I have had rfa in my lumbar spine region 3x's now and did not have near the same level of discomfort post procedure. In my experience the cervical nerves have grown back faster than the lumbar ones have. i basically got 2 to 3 months partial relief from this and due to insurance restricions have to wait 6 to 7 months in between treatments. Still not sure I want to repeat the pain to get partial relief for such a short time. Hope this insight helps.
    Erin Roche
    L5/S1 Hemilaminectomy
    SCS implant in 2012
    plus much much more...
  • I had a cervical RFA done a week ago today for chronic (30+ years) headaches. I too had the branch blocks done twice. First time I had 5 weeks relief, the second time only one week. I had the left side RFA done last week, and while I can say my headaches are better, the pain from the procedure is much more than I thought it would be. I have a bruise on the back of my neck/trap about the size of a baseball, and pain in those areas that I would describe as burning tightness. The procedure itself was simple (I was given twilight anesthesia) but seriously was unprepared for this pain afterwards. Am scheduled to have the right side done on the 26th, and am leaving for Europe 2 1/2 weeks after that. Desperately hoping the post procedure pain doesn't ruin my trip.
  • Thanks leeannsb for your comments and information. Yes, I had read that post-op pain after the actual procedure can be challenging, and it seems to take a variable amount of time to resolve.
    I had the diagnostic injections on the right side of my neck yesterday. I then had to keep record of the percentage of pain relief I got for the next 6 hours. I had 75% relief for 3 hours, then the usual pain came back fairly rapidly during the next 3 hours. As a result, my doctor says my insurance company is going to require him to repeat the diagnostic procedure again to see if I get any better results before they will approve doing the actual nerve burning procedure. So back I go next Thursday to try the numbing process again. I'm not looking forward to going through the same procedure again, but I did survive it once so at least I'll know what to expect.
    I hope for your pain and discomfort to resolve soon and perhaps when they do your other side, you'll have an easier time afterwards.
    Let me know how things are progressing.
  • Called the dr yesterday afternoon about the burning pain in my neck. She said that it was normal, and should begin to subside soon. She did prescribe a Medrol Dose pack for me, which is a prednisone-like steroid. She said the burning pain is from the actual burned nerve tissue at the RFA site. The steroid is to lessen the inflammation and get rid of the pain. Have only taken one dose so far, and the pack had 6 days worth in it. Hoping this helps.
  • leeannsb...Just wondered how the steroids were working? Any relief yet? Did your doc say the pain you're experiencing post-procedure was usual, and how long is it expected to last?
    Good luck with the procedure on the other side. I'll be thinking of you.
  • leeannsblleeannsb Posts: 5
    edited 05/10/2015 - 3:36 PM
    Hello. She did say the pain is normal, but didn't give me a specific length of time that it might last. The steroids have definitely helped some, but have not totally gotten rid of the pain. It actually seems to have moved from my lower neck/trap area kind of up the back of my head to about the point where my neck and skull meet. My scalp has the burning sensation now, and it hurts to brush or move my hair (and I have long, thick hair!) I would say I have about a 50-60% reduction in pain most of the time, although sometimes it does shoot back up. I'm hoping by the 2 week mark Thurs it's gone, because if it hangs around longer, it's not going to bode well when I have the right side done and leave for Europe 2 1/2 weeks later. :(
  • Lord, I feel for you and I'm so sorry for your pain and discomfort. I hope it dies down before you have the other side done. But 50% pain reduction at times is encouraging. It's just too bad you have to go through hell to get there.
    I go Thursday to have mine redone to see if I get better results from the numbing procedure before having the actual burning approved and done. Hope I get better results this time.
    My thoughts continue with you and keep me informed how you're doing.
    Thanks, Steve
  • How did your nerve block go? I'm 3 weeks out and still having pain. :( I see my dr for a reevaluation of my pain next week. Cancelled the rhizo on the other side of my neck, as I'm traveling to Europe 2 weeks after it was supposed to be, and I can NOT possibly travel in the kind of pain I had this time. Hope yours goes better than mine has.
  • I'm so sorry your procedure has not gone well. I don't blame you for putting off the other side at least until you get back from your vacation. Hopefully you'll have an enjoyable time.
    The first nerve block they did I only got about 4 hours of pain relief. So the next week he re performed the numbing procedure, but used a different approach. Rather than coming at the nerve through the side of my neck as he did the first time, this time he came in posterior through the back of my neck. This last time I got well over 12 hours of pain relief. So we are making plans to do the actual RF procedure using the same posterior approach. Using that approach was much more comfortable for me and he had better access to the nerve. So I meet with him this week to go over a recent MRI I had done as well as so I can ask specific questions about the actual RF procedure. And based on your experience, I'm going to ask about the post-procedure expectations.
    Continued best to you and I so hope you can enjoy your trip!
  • I have had a 3 level fusion and was still in pain so I tried this procedure.It was the most painful process I have ever had done and experienced very little pain relief.Took a little over a hour to do all 3 levels and it was absolutely not worth it for the little pain relief I got from it.From my experience it was not worth it and I would never do it again and have not.If you like pain then do it but for me it was over hyped and expensive.The anestesia they give for relief from the procedure while you are awake is not much.Had a little relief for about 5 weeks total and is not much.When I say it is a painful procedure I cannot begin to tell you how bad it hurt as it was done.Just not worth it to me but its your choice.vaslugger
  • Steve-I would never do it again.I had 3 levels burned and had very little results that lasted about 5 weeks for just a little relief that I got.Procedure lasted a little over a hour and is the most painful thing I have ever had done.Its your decision but I never had it done but once as its totally over rated.I was desperate for relief but this procedure was not the answer for me.If it was me I would not do it but its your choice.vaslugger
  • The 2nd diagnostic nerve block worked much better than the first one. Got a good 24 hours of relief before pain returned. So I saw my pain doc end of last week and we are scheduled to do the first RF procedure in 2 weeks from now. I have kinda ambiguous feelings about it right at the moment because my upper spine pain is acting up. This pain is much greater at the moment than my neck. We did a new MRI on my cervical and thoracic spine. Showed a lot of arthritis, osteophytes, disc disease, and slightly compressed old fracture of T5. Also have some new disc bulging in my thoracic spine, but no spinal cord impingement yet. My discouragement is he said other than epidural steroid injections in my thoracic spine, there is basically nothing he can do for the thoracic spine pain. And naturally that is what hurts worse right now. I have had epidural injections before and they did absolutely nothing, although it was a different doctor that did those. So I'm frustrated.
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