Anaesthetist and Pain Management Consultant
Facet joints are small joints in the back and can develop wear and tear or arthritis like any other joint in the body. Although other joints like hips and knees can be replaced if arthritis is severe, there is no permanent solution for facet arthritis and constant Pain arising from the facet joints. This lower back pain can be severe and can significantly affect quality of life.
Suggested treatments can include physiotherapy, TENS machine, acupuncture, medication or injections.
Firstly, the consultant will perform a medial branch block to confirm that the facet joints are the source of the pain. If the procedure is successful and meaningful pain relief if obtained, the consultant may suggest a denervation sometimes also called as Rhizolysis.
In this day surgery procedure, the nerve which carries the Pain impulses to the brain can be blocked by lesioning the nerve so it is no longer able to conduct the pain messages from the facet joints to the brain. Nerves do eventually heal but relief of 6-12 months and sometimes more may be achieved.
However, denervation is not suitable or effective in all types of back pain but your consultant will be able to assess your suitability for the procedure and provide recommendations.