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burning the nerve roots, successful?

Kaleigh31KKaleigh31 Posts: 7
edited 12/07/2013 - 6:02 AM in Pain Management
I have multiple issues going on (details in my bio I believe) and have had 2 series of epidural spinal injections plus 2 series of facet joint injections. Now am moving on to "diagnostic injections" to see if burning the nerve roots (Rhizotomy?) would be a good choice for me.
I am sick of being in pain. My boss is on my back about missing work and I am barely putting one foot in front of the other. They don't like me taking any time off for these injections and scans, but what can I do? If I don't get the pain under control, I cannot continue to work.

So, if you've had the procedure, I'd love to hear about it!
L4, L5 Degenerative Spondylolisthesis, grade 2. Spinal Stenosis. Radiculopathy.
2+ years of injections, meds, therapy, chiropractic and massage. Next step laminectomy and posterior spinal fusion.


  • Hi,

    Welcome to Spine Health.

    I have had several (many) rhyzotomies and did not have a lot of success with them. Some people get results, sometimes up to 6 months or longer. Everyone is different. Back when I had mine they were quite painful but I hear that there is a new not as painful process.

    I tried it all, prolotherapy, rhyzotomy, injections, accupuncture, manipulation. Nothing really worked. I had 3 back fusions to deal with problems with my spine (it was collapsing). I finally had cortisone injections in my SI joint (which had also been involved in my being knocked unconscious by a snowboarder). I had success with the injections and 2 successful injections is the gold standard for SI joint dysfunction. The SI joint is not well known but is a big joint.

    I ended up having both fused with a new process called IFuse which is minimally invasive and half the recovery time than open surgery. It was amazing how immediate the pain ended.

    Try the rhyzotomy, you may be one of the ones who it works for. You never know.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Hi Kalleigh,
    Rhizotomies are done to burn the nerve fibers in the facet joints when the facets are the cause of the pain. This is done after a series of test injections to confirm the source of the pain, so that the doctor can determine whether the procedure would be helpful to the patient.
    Patients who have them done generally get good to excellent pain relief from 6 months to a year or more of the procedure, and the good news is that when the nerve fibers return, the procedure can be repeated indefinately if it works.
    Generally, if the test injections offer pain relief, then the rhizotomy will as well.
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  • I am going in Tuesday for the diagnostic injections, hope they help and I can move on to the rhizotomy. Need something to help.
    My main source of pain seems to be the SI joint and the nerve pain from there through L4. There is so much arthritis and bone spurs that they are having a hard time getting the injections in to the right places. Hope they can get this to work :/
    L4, L5 Degenerative Spondylolisthesis, grade 2. Spinal Stenosis. Radiculopathy.
    2+ years of injections, meds, therapy, chiropractic and massage. Next step laminectomy and posterior spinal fusion.
  • ajgaajg Posts: 9
    edited 12/08/2013 - 12:53 PM
    I have had 20+ epidural injections/blocks in every single crevice that they could find since last August due to falling on my tailbone in my garage in July 2012 shortly after a lumbar back fusion, and that included a Rhizotomy. For me, it did nothing at all. I thought that if they burned the nerves, the pain HAD to go away but for some reason, it did not and has not. I am not saying it would not work for you but you asked if someone had experience. Also, I was anesthesia for each and every one, I was not going to want to see or feel any needles going into my back. Except for a diagnostic injection, which I would rather shoot myself in the knee than have one again. But that is just me. I wish you well.

    PS, I actually feel better that I am now on this forum. I feel that hearing other's stories makes me feel that I am not alone. The one thing I am immediately recognizing is that everyone is different and reacts differently than others might. Up to now, I felt like I was going crazy and was my doctors worst patient. I don't feel that right now. Thanks
  • Helen3Helen3 Posts: 205
    edited 12/08/2013 - 12:54 PM
    Last month I had nerve block for. Cervical issues. I think it work...I still have pains an pressures but its different than before.

    Is burning an blocking the same thing?
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  • a few years ago i went in to get an injection and i felt this incredible burning pain which i never felt before. the dr said he did something to my nerve but did not say specifically. i believe he did something to deaden the nerve. i am not sure if i had this procedure or not. he did not tell me or did i ask to have it but it sure hurt and burned bad. last, it did not help whatever he did to me. the guy retired so i can't ask him. was this the rizo procedure that was done?
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I had both sides done, neither of which worked.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,269
    edited 12/09/2013 - 9:36 AM
    then the facets were not the cause of the pain you were experiencing. Did you undergo the test injections first to see if they would deaden the pain?
  • I'm sort of the exception where facet joint injections work for me usually up to about 5-6 months, but then I have to get another series. I had the rhizotomy done a couple different times and they didn't provide much relief. I will not go through it again knowing I don't get good, long term relief from it. To me it felt like someone whooped the crap out of my back for several days after the procedure.
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I've had it done a number of times and had some really good results. Sometimes I could forget a I had a back problem for up to 8 months. (No meds and no visits with pain management). Eventually they quit working for me; I had surgery earlier this year, but would definitely have it done again if another issue pops up.
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
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