Facet Thermal Ablation

If you are suffering from arthritis in your spine, facet thermal ablation could be an effective surgical procedure that may provide long-term pain relief. Since it is considered minimally invasive, it is often a common choice for people looking for relief from chronic back pain stemming from the facet joints. If you are looking for a way to relieve the pain associated with arthritis of the spine, ask a doctor about facet thermal ablation.

A dedicated spine doctor could help you understand the procedure and determine whether it could be an appropriate treatment option for your pain. Call today and schedule a consultation.

Understanding the Facet Joints

The small, stabilizing facet joints are located behind and between adjacent vertebrae on the outer region of the spinal cord. They generally serve to provide flexibility to the spine’s vertebral body, which is its primary building blocks.

But if someone is suffering from arthritis, the cartilage responsible for giving facet joints the freedom to move may begin to wear. With this wear often comes friction, which could lead to the development of bone spurs or osteophytes–smooth, small projections from the surface of the facet joints. Eventually, bone spurs encounter close by nerves, which may cause the pain the person experiences.

What Does Thermal Ablation Do?

Using a laser, thermal ablation targets affected facet joints to destroy the nerves at the root of the pain and smooth the osteophytes on their surface. The ideal result is a reduction in pain and removal of the bone spurs and rough areas that drive arthritis.

During thermal ablation, a certified surgeon typically will create a small incision over the affected facet joint. Following the incision, they may insert tiny tubes into the opening to reach the affected nerve and joint.

Using imaging, the surgeon may observe the specific location that is causing pain and use a laser to burn the affected nerve and smoothen bone spurs on the joint.

After the procedure is complete, the patient generally will be moved to a room designated for recovery, which only may take a few hours. The patient may even notice relief from their arthritis pain immediately, which is one of the reasons that people often choose this surgical procedure over other alternatives.

Who Should Choose this Procedure

Although this procedure requires a small incision to provide a hole for the laser, it is typically accepted as a minimally invasive and has a relatively short recovery period. If someone is considering facet thermal ablation or their doctor has recommended it, it is likely because they have not responded to conservative treatments such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Injections
  • Medication

All these treatments may reduce symptoms of back pain, stiffness, tenderness around affected joints, and limited flexibility. However, this specific treatment is often most beneficial for people that do not respond to other treatments. When it comes to the unique benefits of facet thermal ablation, they may include:

  • Performed on an outpatient basis
  • Quick surgery time
  • Fast recovery
  • Minimal scarring and bleeding

Preparing for Surgery

Anyone considering thermal ablation on their facet joints may want to visit a medical professional so that they could understand the necessary preparations. This typically involves a cessation of smoking, temporarily stopping supplements and medications that may increase a risk for bleeding, and fasting for six to 12 hours prior to the procedure. The patient generally should also arrange for a ride after the procedure, as it may not be safe to drive following the surgery.

Ask a Doctor About Facet Thermal Ablation

Struggling with arthritis pain can cast a cloud over your life, and conservative treatments can feel temporary or ineffective. If you are suffering from pain due to arthritis in your facet joint and want long-term relief, call a doctor today to make an appointment to discuss facet thermal ablation.