What is Facet Thermal Ablation with Laser? | BEST

Facet thermal ablation is a procedure that involves heating one or more nerve endings in the spinal facet joints that are causing pain. Similar to other facet ablation procedures, such as radiofrequency ablation, facet thermal ablations differ in that they use a laser instead of a radiofrequency needle. Facet thermal ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis, in many cases, patients will receive this treatment in conjunction with a minimally invasive decompression surgery. 

If you are dealing with spinal joint pain caused by osteoarthritis or another degenerative condition, learning more about the available treatment options can help you make an informed decision about your health. BEST Health System is dedicated to providing all patients access to healthcare information to ensure they are knowledgeable of their options available to them. 

Who can Benefit from Facet Thermal Ablation?

Facet disease, a form of osteoarthritis, is a term for pain and other symptoms resulting from the natural degeneration of the protective cartilage around the spinal facet joints. Over time, as the cartilage wears away, the increased friction between spinal joints can cause inflammation that results in stiffness and aches in the spine. This inflammation can also result in irritation or compression of small nerves that send sensory information to and from the joints, called branch nerves. 

When facet disease is not a reversible condition, many patients are unable to find effective relief through conservative treatments such as physical therapy, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, and lifestyle changes. If weeks or months of conservative treatment has not offered the relief necessary for a good quality of life, surgery, including facet thermal ablation, can become an option. 

What to Expect During a Facet Thermal Ablation Procedure?

To perform facet thermal ablation, the surgeon will make a small incision at the location of the inflamed facet joint. Using muscle-sparing techniques and the assistance of a fluoroscope for visualization, the surgeon will use a laser to carefully burn away nerve endings that have become irritated and are causing pain. As these are sensory nerves only, they can be safely removed without affecting motor skills. 

Due to the minimally invasive nature of the procedure, patients can typically return home the night of the surgery. The surgical team will give detailed instructions for recovery and when to resume normal activities. 

BEST Health System

If you are interested in learning more about  facet thermal ablation and want to see if it is right for you, contact BEST today. Our team is dedicated to finding the most effective, least invasive treatment options. Get started on your path to recovery today. The BEST is yet to come.