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What to Expect During Your Rhizotomy

A nonsurgical rhizotomy, also known as radiofrequency (RF) ablation or RF neurotomy, uses heat to disrupt pain signals that travel from your nerves to your brain. Working in much the same way as injections that temporarily numb the nerves, a rhizotomy rises to the next level by relieving back, neck, or knee pain for months to years without surgery.

Dr. John S. Michels is a well-known, award-winning pain management specialist in Dallas, Texas. Highly respected for his medical skills, Dr. Michels also brings a personal perspective to pain management. Injured during a NFL career that included a Super Bowl win, he truly understands the life-altering issues associated with chronic pain.

Read why Dr. Michels may recommend rhizotomy to relieve your pain and what to expect during and after the procedure.

Why consider rhizotomy?

Chronic back, neck, and/or knee pain are often related to progressive degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis or the wear-and-tear effects of aging and injuries sustained during overuse or an accident.

A rhizotomy can provide long-term pain relief for these common conditions and may eliminate the need for or, at the very least, allow you to postpone elective surgery such as knee replacement for a later date. It’s also beneficial for those individuals who are having difficulty participating in prescribed therapeutic activities, such as exercise or physical therapy programs, due to pain.

Bottom-line, rhizotomy can stop the pain and help you return to a more active life.

What happens during a rhizotomy?

Before scheduling your rhizotomy, Dr. Michels completes a thorough evaluation to determine the exact location of the nerve(s) responsible for your pain.

Shortly before beginning rhizotomy, we provide medication that keeps you relaxed and comfortable for the procedure. The heat required for RF rhizotomy is delivered through the skin via small needles, so a numbing agent is injected in that area to prevent any discomfort.    

Dr. Michels then uses an X-ray machine (fluoroscope) to guide the radiofrequency needles to the targeted nerve tissue. The heat produced by the radio waves damages the nerve enough to disrupt the pain signals it transmits to your brain. Without this communication, your brain no longer acknowledges/feels the pain.

After rhizotomy

After the procedure, our staff monitors your response for a short time before sending you home. Dr. Michels provides detailed aftercare instructions regarding activity, care of the injection site, etc.  

Many patients experience immediate pain relief, but it can take several days before you experience the full results of rhizotomy. 

The nerve(s) treated during rhizotomy eventually regenerate and can become painful again, but that generally takes six to eighteen months. And rhizotomy can be repeated without negative  effects should your pain return.

For relief from your pain, schedule a visit with award-winning pain management specialist Dr. John S. Michels today. Call the office or request an appointment online.

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