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Cervical rhizotomy -Radio frequency ablation (neck) pain

Hi there, I just got back from the doctor after having a facet rhizotomy (radio frequency ablation) and I'm wondering how much pain is normal. I had my left side done from C6-3 and I'm hurting really badly. I should mention that about 7 months ago I had ACDF C5/6. So when they burned the nerves around that area it was the most sensitive. But this is hurting a lot more than I thought it would and I'm wondering how long this lasted in your experience. I'm also wondering if it got worse in the following days and what day was the worst for the pain (I started at about a 5 and I'm at a 8/9 now). Thanks!!!


  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 556
    I'm sorry you are in so much pain after this. I can't offer any help, but I'm interested in hearing responses that you get.
    Yesterday, I had my first of two medial branch blocks. I really didn't feel much different after? I am supposed to call my doctor today to report results to him. After my second injection, he wants to do a cervical Rhizotomy. I am really nervous about getting this done.
    I hope your pain goes away soon. Please keep me updated.
  • Hi there. The pain i was experiencing the day of my RFTC was not as bad when i woke up the next morning. the pain is now in a different location and i am not counting out the benefit that can still occur from the RFTC (since it takes 2-6 weeks for pain relief). Also, I got relief after the C3-6 facet joint injections (i think this is also called a medial branch block) but only for about 4 hours. but during those 4 hours right after my facet injections - i felt a lot better. Because i felt better, the doctor said that i would potentially benefit from the Radio Frequency Thermal Coagulation (RFTC aka RFA) procedure. I told my doctor that i was worried because i only had relief for a little while after the injections and he said that that was normal, and that as long as i got some relief that he would move on to do the RFTC. so just keep in mind that i did not get any long-term relief from that steroid injection. As far as this RFTC thing goes, I'm still experiencing pain - but I am hoping that it is normal since the nerves need to die. Can anyone tell me how long it took before they started to think the RFTC was working???
  • I had my L3-S1 done on Aug 25 so he went in on both sides. Upon waking up 10 after ice and Diladud in IV brought me to a 5. Was told told to ice 40 minutes every 4 hours which I did and not much of anything for next couple of days. I also had to do facet injections on both sides 2 times before insurance would pay for procedure. Both times I had relief with the nerve pain going down my legs so I was a candidate for the RFA. I was told could take up till 4 weeks so I have already noticed some difference. First couple of days strange pains, groin area, nerves jumping around in areas that I never had problems with but nothing unbearable. I am hoping for the best. To even go down a grade or two in pain level will be worth it to me. I'm hoping to hear of good outcomes since I have chronic pain in neck area after my 4 level Cervical fusion. Every couple months I'm back in therapy for that. I think my neck doesn't like all the hardware. Please keep posting as I would like to follow your progress sorry wasn't much help but wanted to let you know a about my RFA. Mine was called the coolief RF.
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 556
    edited 09/09/2015 - 1:33 AM
    I had my first injection last week & my pain was actually worse after? My pain doctor wants to do 2 injections before he does the RFA. Since I didn't get any relief, does that mean the second injection isn't going to work either?
    I really hope you guys start getting some pain relief soon.
  • It seems odd that your pain was worse right after. But it's not that surprising since they do stick needles in there and aggravate everything. Just because the first one didn't work doesn't mean the second one won't help. I think (and this is just a guess) that they don't always inject as much steroid in there as they could. So maybe the extra steroid will help. But if the second injection doesn't help then I wouldn't get the RFA. They also might not be injecting the area where your pain actually is. Before I had facet injections they tried 2 cervical epidurals, 2 rounds of trigger point injections, then they wanted to do facet injections (at that point I said no and had ACDF C5/6)... That helped me a little, but It was very gradual. I also didn't realize how much it helped until they did this RFTC, which changed my pain. I put a call in to the doc that did the procedure to see if they could give me some medicine for the pain until it gets better (which I'm really hoping it will). But if those injections are not helping don't worry. There are other options and places they can inject.
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