Rhizotomy: When Should It Be Used and What Are the Side Effects

Rhizotomy: When Should It Be Used and What Are the Side Effects

Since ‘Rhizotomy’ isn’t a term thay you hear every day, a lot of people out there don’t have any idea what it means. In a nutshell, it’s a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can provide immediate pain relief for the patient, while the relief itself can last for several years.

How can that be possible? Quite simple, once you learn about it: the rhizotomy (aka ablation or neurotomy) procedure kills the nerve fibers that are responsible for beaming up the pain signals to our brains. In this way, the pain sensation will go away for years.

Thanks to the official website of Johns Hopkins Medicine (hopkinsmedicine.org), we can learn the basics about rhizotomy, as well as about when the procedure can be used and what are the side effects.

When can rhizotomy be used?

There are plenty of conditions that can be treated with the rhizotomy procedure, and here are some of them:

  • Joint pains resulting from arthritis
  • Back and neck pain resulting from herniated discs, arthritis, spinal stenosis, as well as other degenerative spine conditions
  • Spasticity, meaning abnormal muscle tightness as well as spasms
  • Trigeminal neuralgia, meaning a facial pain occurring because of the irritation of the trigeminal nerve
  • Other conditions that affect peripheral nerves

Side effects and risks of rhizotomy

You need to know that there are some risks associated with the rhizotomy procedure, and that depends on the procedure type and which nerves it’s being performed on. Let’s dive into detail:

  • Radiofrequency rhizotomy poses a higher risk of triggering feelings of numbness compared to the chemical method.
  • Glycerin/glycerol rhizotomy risks: These include vomiting, bleeding, infection, nausea, and a slight chance of feeling of numbness as well as anesthesia complications.

In some rare cases, rhizotomy won’t work when it comes to making the patient get rid of the pain that bothers him. If you’re among them, it’s best to seek advice from your doctor – another treatment or a second rhizotomy might be needed.


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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