The facet joints of the spine in the neck can develop wear and tear changes with time and use. This is sometimes called “arthrosis” or “arthritis”. The cartilage in the facet joints can wear thin and become rough, leading to decreased joint lubrication, increased swelling, and bone spurs. When these changes occur, you may feel aching, stiffness, throbbing, and pain when looking up or turning the head side to side. When the facet joints at the top of the neck between the C2 and C3 bones have degeneration, headaches that radiate up from the neck and base of the skull over the head may occur. The medial branch nerve in the facet joint sends the pain signals from the facet joint

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive type of injection performed on the medial branch nerve that uses radio waves to create heat that stops the function of the medial branch nerve, so that the facet joint pain is no longer felt. When performed at the C2-3 facet joints, the headaches radiating up from the neck can be drastically reduced. The relief from the RFA reaches a peak 4-6 weeks after the procedure and typically lasts 12-18 months. The medial branch nerve can reawaken at that time and the RFA may be repeated if the pain returns.

Radiofrequency ablations (RFAs) are performed in our in-office procedure suite. Dr. Joyal will use x-ray or ultrasound guidance to precisely target the appropriate nerve. The procedure typically takes 15-20 minutes.  Sedation is available.