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Facet Rhizotomy also called RFA or Radio Frequency Ablation

JunebugJJunebug Posts: 71
edited 09/08/2013 - 5:21 PM in Pain Management
I got a Lumbar Facet Rhizotomy done yesterday It It really helped me reading Kathyy's journal for this procedure. I am going to keep track of the pain and let you know if it helps or not. I hope this helps you.

Yesterday I got facet radio frequency ablation, also called Rhizotomy done.
It was on L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1, both left and right sides of my back.

Background: I have had steroid injections many times before over the past three years. Some have worked well, some have only worked for a few days or not at all. The best steroid injections gave me great pain relief for two months.

How the procedure is done: I was given some fentanyl in an IV to help with the pain. The doctor probed with a needle to see if the medial branch nerve twitched or thumped, and to check that she had not hit the sciatic nerve. It was not nearly as painful as getting facet injections without sedation!
Once this was done in all six sites, I was sedated and woke up in the recovery room.

Day One

4:30 - Went home pain free
6:00 - Still no pain except on the top right side. I wonder if one level up was missed?
7:00 - Took two Aleve because I usually do every day. Didn't really need it!
Used ice pack because I was told to, but didn't feel sore at all.

Day 2

6:00 - Slept well last night. I Feel really good. No real pain yet. Pain is at Level 2 only on the very top right side, but that side was where most of my pain was from before. So far so good!



  • 4 pm - Feeling very tired. Headaches all day. Was able to go to school. My usual back pain is back, but no worse than before the rhizotomy

  • Day 3 - I felt great all day. Surprised that I had very little pain. I didn't even take Aleve today.
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  • Day 4 after my rhizotomy I am feeling pain. It hurts to sit and I have a headache. I took Aleve this morning but I am still in pain. Used my Interferential Unit (Like a TENS machine)
  • Day 4 after my rhizotomy I am feeling pain. It hurts to sit and I have a headache. I took Aleve this morning but I am still in pain. Used my Interferential Unit (Like a TENS machine)
  • Day 5 - I was able to walk today without pain. I walked about a mile. I am not pain free but the pain is not bad at all.
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  • It's been a week now. I still have pain. A bit disappointed, expected to be pain free. It is at least as bad as before the procedure, probably a bit worse.
  • Day 12

    I am wondering if the RFA worked. The doctors notes said there could 1 - 3 weeks of pain from the procedure. It feels more like the same pain as BEFORE the procedure. Stiff, can't bend back very far. Pain level is about a 6.

    I notice that when I first wake up I have less pain. As I sit and compress my spine by walking and sitting, the pain starts getting worse. This was also true before RFA.

  • Day 13

    For the first time, I felt pretty pain-free all morning. I did not have to take pain medicine until the afternoon. When I wake in the morning I feel almost pain-free. It gets worse as the day moves on. I think it may be working. Fingers crossed!
  • It's late at night, and my back is really hurting. Still, I have not had Ultram all day. The pain is a bit better or the same as before the procedure. Have not had to use the interferential unit (like a TENS) all day.
  • had an rfa done 3 days ago and my pain has increased significantly past 24 hrs, Certainly am concerned about rfa failure.
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