Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation (RFT)

What is Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation?

Radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RTFC) is a procedure that uses radio waves and heat to destroy tissue, in this case, a nerve to help relieve pain. People suffering from facet joint syndrome may benefit from this form of treatment. Facet joints are small joints that connect each vertebra. There are two facet joints at each vertebral column level, providing stability to the spine while allowing healthy movement.

These joints, along with the anterior discs, allow flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral bending of the neck and back. Due to the nature of their function, facet joints may wear and tear over time, causing pain in the skull, neck, shoulders, or back. Physical trauma and injuries to the spine may also cause facet joint syndrome. Pain levels for this condition range from mild to severe and may worsen with movement.

How Does Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation Work?

Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation is a procedure performed under anesthesia in an outpatient setting. One of our interventional pain specialists will ask you to lay on your abdomen and will proceed to insert a small, specialized needle into the facet joint. Aided by fluoroscopy, a type of x-ray guide, the physician will use the needle to transmit radiofrequency waves. These waves create sufficient heat to coagulate the nerve and render it non-effective to send pain signals to the brain, thus providing relief. Some of the benefits of RFT are:

  • Minimally invasive procedure
  • Relief lasts for at least 6 – 12 months on average
  • Rapid recovery

Immediately after the procedure, you may be asked to wait a few minutes for monitoring and ensuring that it is safe for you to go home. Numbing in the back and weakness upon standing may occur but will pass reasonably quickly. We recommend asking a friend or family member to accompany you and drive you home afterward. The initial recovery period can be slightly painful but can be mitigated by taking painkillers.

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How to Prepare for RFT

In order to determine your eligibility to receive Radiofrequency Thermocoagulation treatments, a series of tests may be required. The first step is to perform a thorough physical examination and carefully evaluate your medical and family history. For your safety, we will also collect data on all the medications you are currently taking and may suggest stopping some of them if necessary.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing facet joint syndrome symptoms, we recommend you reach out to our team today. You may be an excellent candidate to receive this procedure. Our expert interventional pain specialists possess decades of experience in pain management and treatment. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition and the treatment options we offer.

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