The procedure involves placing an electrode, via a small needle, through the anesthetized skin to rest parallel to the target nerve under x-ray guidance. A group of muscles called the mulitifidus muscle is stimulated, causing a mild contracting sensation at the target site. Painless muscle contraction and fluoroscopic guidance is used to confirm proper placement of the electrode.
Once confirmed, the nerve is anesthetized, and a radiofrequency lesion is performed. This stops the nerve from sending pain signals from the joint to the brain.
Since the joint’s role is to limit motion by anatomical barriers, the radiofrequency treatment does not stop the joint from protecting the spine or potential harm by movement without pain signals.