What Is Lumbar Rhizotomy?

Lumbar rhizotomy is used to alleviate pain along the spine.
Lumbar rhizotomy is used to alleviate pain along the spine. (Image: "Spare Ribs" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: SubZeroConsciousness (Andrew Barden) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Lumbar rhizotomy is a procedure used to alleviate back pain caused by the facet joints, which control movement between the vertebrae. Nerve impingement within these joints can cause lower back pain.


Stunning the nerve that is causing pain is accomplished with a thin electrode. Lumbar rhizotomy is usually an outpatient procedure, and general anesthetic is used during the procedure.


Rhizotomy is used to alleviate back pain to avoid needing to perform a more invasive procedure such as a laminectomy or a foraminotomy. The nerves that are stunned are not important to normal body function, according to My-Spine.com.


You may have pain for up to three weeks after the procedure. Rest and exercise are crucial after the rhizotomy.

Time Frame

Lumbar rhizotomy does not permanently cure pain, and it will need to be repeated when pain returns. The procedure can be repeated indefinitely.


Not all patients are helped by rhizotomy. The success rate is between 40 and 75 percent, according the My-Spine.com.

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