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What is Facet Thermal Ablation?


Facet thermal ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat arthritis in the spine. The facet joints are located on the outside of the spinal cord and allow the spine the flexibility to move. Arthritis causes the cartilage that helps the facet joints move freely to wear and bone spurs may develop and make contact with a nearby nerve. These things limit your flexibility and cause pain and other symptoms.

Thermal ablation uses a laser to target the affected joint and deaden the impacted nerves and smooth the joint, removing rough areas and bone spurs. Spinal ablation is recommended for patients who haven’t been able to relieve their pain and symptoms with conservative treatments.

Our skilled, board-certified surgeons have helped thousands find relief from chronic back pain using thermal ablation and other minimally invasive procedures. If you’re still living with pain after having tried other treatments, call Back Pain Centers of America (BPC) at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to find out how we can help you find relief.

How facet thermal ablation treatment can help you to get back to nature

Benefits of Facet Thermal Ablation

Thermal ablation offers those suffering from facet joint arthritis relief from chronic pain and stiffness that isn’t relieved with nonsurgical spinal treatments. This minimally invasive procedure is performed through a very small incision and uses a laser to target arthritis in the facet joints without disrupting surrounding muscle and nerves. Spinal ablation is performed on an outpatient basis so you can go home the same day. Recovery is considerably quicker than traditional open surgery and there is minimal bleeding and scarring so you can get back to your activities sooner.

What Does Spinal Ablation Treat?

Spinal ablation treats the symptoms of arthritis in the spine’s facet joints, which can range in severity depending on how advanced the condition is. Symptoms relieved by thermal ablation include:

  • Pain in the neck or back, depending where the affected joints are located
  • Tenderness over the affected joint
  • Pain that radiates to the shoulders, arms, or legs, depending on the location of the damaged joint
  • Limited flexibility and range of motion
  • Stiffness

How to Prepare for Facet Ablation

To prepare for your facet ablation, you will be asked to do the following:

  • Stop smoking for a specified period before and after the procedure – Tobacco slows healing and is linked to various degenerative spine conditions.
  • Stop taking certain medications and supplements – Some medications and supplements increase the risk of bleeding. You will be told which to stop taking and for how long.
  • Fast for 6 to 12 hours – You will be told exactly when to stop eating and drinking before your facet thermal ablation procedure.
  • Arrange a ride home – You should not drive after your back ablation and will need to arrange a ride home.

What to Expect from the Facet Thermal Ablation Procedure

The surgeon will make a tiny incision over the affected joint and insert a series of thin tubes into the incision to access the joint and nerve. Special imaging will allow the surgeon to view the spine and perform the thermal ablation with accuracy. A laser burns away the nerve and then the joint’s surface is cleaned and any bone spurs are removed.

Once the spinal ablation is complete, you will be moved to a recovery room for a few hours to be monitored. Relief from symptoms is often immediate following thermal ablation.

Recovery Timeline

Some pain at the incision site is normal and you can easily manage it with pain medication and by applying ice to the site. Your doctor will tell you exactly when you can return to work and get back to certain activities. Physical therapy will be prescribed to help improve your range of motion so that you recover quickly and comfortably.

Don’t delay relief. Call BPC at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] today so we can match you with a board-certified spine specialist who can provide the treatment you need. Take the next step on the road to recovery. Life awaits.

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