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As anyone heard of rhizotomy vs. Surgery? Or had the procedure done?? I need some answers please.

Started by Sarah3018 on 08/26/2010 4:37am

I have problems in my L5-s1 area herniated disc and nerve damage. My doctor is suggesting this procedure rhizotomy. And don't know much about it. Has anyone had this done and if so what happened?
I am so confused...

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5 Responses


Rhizotomy is when they numb or burn the nerves on your facet joints. It's usually a treatment for arthritis more than disc problems. Different places do different things -- RF (radio frequency) is sometimes used, and some places may call a facet block a rhizotomy. Facet blocks are just numbing injections into those facet joint nerves. That would be a temporary fix but might be a good place to start so you can at least figure out if that is going to help. Facet blocks are super common and a good pain management doc should be able to do it really quickly. It's a pretty low-risk procedure and I'd definitely try that before you go in for any kind of surgery. Whatever you do, make sure you check out all of your options and always, always, always get a 2nd opinion before you have any kind of surgery. Is this your family doctor? I'd ask him (or her) to refer you to a pain specialist.


I have had this treatment, both the advanced method and the old fassioned treatment. I had pretty good results ultimately for both, but suffered horrible grief at the same time. I still do not know exactly what happened and am in the process of finding out these things.

The high tech method consists of mild sedation, anesthiesologist uses magnifying glasses and orthoscopy using small needles watches the scope, finds the right nerve by exciting it, watching the corresponding movement in the fingers (mine was thorax) end of one needle is like a chocet hook, fishes the nerve out splits the mylar sheathing insulation, fishes the nurve out, separates the motor from the sensory, burns the sensory nerve in two.

When I had this done, the first one went pretty good, they only did one at a time, three days later I went thought the same procedure, everything seemed to go pretty good until I felt the most horrific pain in my back and I could not help but flail around with my arms and hands and try to reach what ever was stabbing into my back. The doctor and nurses jumped back, I felt like a zombie.

I experienced some alarming symptoms following this procedure. I had heard of another acquaintence who described this same thing before I even went in for mine. No one ever explained anything to me but I ended up admitting myself into a mental hospital the following weekend. It is hard to describe what happened, but when you go into a procedure in good faith, something drastic happens and everyone acts like nothing happened. This procedure was done in 2007. I just recently learned about the possibility that it was a "wet tap" and understand it is serious. I was glad to try this and steriods were horrible for me. They also injected corticortizone at the RF cite. From what I understnd some of the injection could have leaked into the spinal column, no one has offered any explaination to me at all. I have discovered everything I know now by my own investigation.

The second round of rhizotomies were done the old fashioned method. It took a longer time and I had 3 t inerspaces done on one day and 4 a couple of weeks later. I had tremendous radicular pain for approximately one year. I felt my muscles doing something and do not know to this day what was going on. I have no feeling on my skin, and it seems my spine is larger in some areas like maybe arthiritis set in almost over night. I never had any problems with arthiritis until after this procedure. No one tells me anything, that is why I am telling you.

My advice is go to a neuro surgeon with your MRIs and there is many minimal invasive laser treatments now. I am currently looking into this possibility. I will try to update this information as I find out answers. Pain Clinics do a lot of good for many people, but they have put me on pain medication and steriod shots do not do me any good, at least before the last round of rhizotomies.

I certainly would like any information from anyone who might shed some light on this subject.


I have heard of and received both. The rizhotomy seemed like a pretty good idea, and may have worked pretty good, if it had not been for the "wet tap". I had this procedure done in 2007 and the anesthiasologist would only 1 side of one disc at a time. Very high tech. They did Right side of T-3 one day and all went well. When they went in to do the other side I was expecting things to be the same. I did not feel the same anesthia and mentioned it to the doc. He said it was OK so I laid there waiting for him to do his thing. All of a sudden A pain so intense happened in my back, it felt like a burning arrow or something. I could not control myself and I tried to reach behinfd my back an pull out what ever was hurting so bad. My arms and lega flailing. The doc and nurse jumped back and when it died down they just treated me like nothing had happeded. I got dressed but I felt like a zombie. I do not know how I functioned for quite a while after that. I voluntarily signed myself into the local mental hospital the next friday. I can not explain what was going on. I was affected for at least a year. No one even bothered to tell me it was a wet tap. I learned about the wet tap here on Spine Universe. It seems like no one is talking, but the lady who told me about it said it can be fatal. I am still trying to investigate this, It needs to comeout. And most of those pain clinics are a scam. Be very careful what you believe.

I went on to have more rhizotomies. The old fashioned kind. It took longer and I had major problems with muscle arthopry. I and C7 T1,2,3 on one side and T1,2,3 on the other each one on separate days.It did not hurt at the time, but the pain from the legimates giving out has plagued me to this day. It was horrible and still is. I had those done in 2010,

I do know of a therapy that does work and it works well. It is not a quick fix but it is permanent. Prolo therapy regenerates your legaments and it works over time. I did feel better every time I had the treatement and it took about 2 years to be permanently repaired. Medicare will not pay for it, if you can possibly get it IT WORKS> New Mexico Pain Management Dr Skacdus does this and now they do it with your own red blood cells and stem cells. I am sure it is much better and faster than the old iritants. I am about to have this done again . I am looking forward to some relief.


A rhizotomy ( /raɪˈzɒtɵmi/ ry-zot-ə-mee) is a term chiefly referring to a neurosurgical procedure that selectively severs problematic nerve roots in the spinal cord, most often to relieve the symptoms of neuromuscular conditions such as spastic diplegia and other forms of spastic cerebral palsy[1]. The selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) for spastic cerebral palsy has been the main use of rhizotomy for neurosurgeons specialising in spastic CP since the 1980s; in this surgery, the spasticity-causing nerves are isolated and then targeted and destroyed. The sensory nerve roots, where spasticity is located, are first separated from the motor ones, and the nerve fibres to be cut are then identified via electromyographic stimulation. The ones producing spasticity are then selectively lesioned with tiny electrical pulses.

In spasticity, rhizotomy precisely targets and destroys the damaged nerves that don’t receive gamma amino butyric acid, which is the core problem for people with spastic cerebral palsy. In spastic cerebral palsy, some nerves do not have normal exposure to the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA. These under-inhibited nerves generate unusual electrical activity during the testing phase and are also considered to be the source of the patient's hypertonia. They are eliminated while the remaining nerves and nerve routes carrying the correct messages remain fully intact and untouched.

The terms rhizotomy and neurotomy are also increasingly becoming interchangeable in the treatment of chronic back pain from degenerative disc disease. This type of rhizotomy is not a surgical procedure but is instead done on an outpatient basis using a simple probe to apply the radiofrequency waves to the impinged pain-causing nerve root lying between the facet joint and the vertebral body. Such radio frequency nerve lesioning results in five to eight or more months of pain relief before the nerve regenerates and another round of the procedure needs to be performed.

Hope this helps.