Disc Denervation

What Is Disc Denervation?

Disc denervation is a procedure in which affected pain-causing nerves are heated and destroyed with radiofrequency, treating chronic disc related or discogenic pain.

How does it work?

The spine’s joints and vertebrae have nerves running throughout and surrounding them to provide sensation and movement to the body. Between each vertebrae is an intervertebral disc, which provides cushion in the structure and maintains fluidity. If a part of this structure is compromised, whether from disease or injury, the patient can be subject to severe pain. Pain in the spine can be felt in the back, neck, or limbs. Using radiofrequency, any affected nerves generating pain are heated and destroyed. Through destroying the nerve fibers pain signals are blocked and the patient experiences relief. This relief can last anywhere from eight to 24 months, and because the procedure is usually safe and minimally invasive the physician can repeat the denervation when the pain returns.

What does the procedure look like?

While at Portland Pain & Spine, the physician usually starts with an injection of local anesthetic. After the area is anesthetized, a fluoroscope is used to place a radiofrequency needle in the affected area. A mild electrical current is then used to recreate the patient’s spinal pain, helping the physician to determine the exact location of the pain and the target nerves. When the nerve or nerves have been located, the physician then uses radiofrequency to perform the denervation and destroy the nerve. After completing the procedure the physician then bandages the needle entry location. This procedure typically has a duration of less than an hour, and after a short observation period, the patient is released.

Any swelling can be treated by applying an ice pack for 15 minutes at a time can. After an initial period of rest, normal activity may be resumed, with full relief being achieved in one to three weeks.

Frequently asked Questions

What is degenerative disc disease?

With age spinal discs normally degenerate or change. The medical diagnosis for this process is “degenerative disc disease”. Common symptoms include chronic pain, episodic neck and back pain, and more intense pain with exertion (ie; lifting, bending).

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