A rhizotomy is a medical procedure aimed at alleviating pain by severing or destroying specific nerve roots that are responsible for transmitting pain signals to the brain. This procedure is particularly used for chronic pain management when other treatments have been ineffective. Here’s a detailed overview:

Types of Rhizotomy

Radiofrequency Rhizotomy:

  • Procedure: Uses radiofrequency energy to generate heat that destroys the nerve fibers carrying pain signals.
  • Common Uses: Often used for spinal pain and facet joint pain.

Chemical Rhizotomy:

  • Procedure: Involves injecting a chemical agent (e.g., phenol or alcohol) to destroy the nerve fibers.
  • Common Uses: Used less frequently but can be applied in cases of severe pain where other methods are not suitable.

Mechanical Rhizotomy:

  • Procedure: Surgically cutting the nerve roots.
  • Common Uses: Primarily used for trigeminal neuralgia, a condition causing severe facial pain.

Indications for Rhizotomy

Rhizotomy is typically considered for:

  • Chronic Back Pain: Especially when caused by facet joint problems.
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia: Severe facial pain resulting from trigeminal nerve issues.
  • Arthritis-Related Pain: When joint degeneration leads to chronic pain.
  • Spasticity in Cerebral Palsy: To reduce muscle spasticity and improve mobility.

Rhizotomy Procedure


  • Imaging: MRI or CT scans are often used to pinpoint the exact location of the nerve roots causing pain.
  • Anesthesia: The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the type and location.


  • Radiofrequency Rhizotomy: A needle is inserted through the skin to the targeted nerve using X-ray guidance. Radiofrequency waves are then used to generate heat and disrupt the nerve function.
  • Chemical Rhizotomy: A needle is guided to the nerve, and the chemical agent is injected to destroy the nerve fibers.
  • Mechanical Rhizotomy: A surgical incision is made to access and cut the nerve roots.


  • Recovery: Most patients can go home the same day, especially with minimally invasive methods like radiofrequency rhizotomy. Recovery time can vary, with some discomfort or soreness at the procedure site.
  • Pain Relief: Patients typically experience pain relief within a few days to weeks. The duration of pain relief can vary, often lasting months to years, and the procedure can be repeated if necessary.

Benefits and Risks of Rhizotomy


  • Targeted Pain Relief: Directly addresses the nerves causing pain.
  • Minimally Invasive Options: Many forms, such as radiofrequency rhizotomy, are minimally invasive.
  • Reduced Medication Dependence: Can decrease the need for pain medications.

Rhizotomy Risks:

  • Nerve Damage: Unintended damage to surrounding nerves, which could cause numbness or weakness.
  • Infection: Risk of infection at the site of the procedure.
  • Temporary Pain Increase: Some patients might experience an initial increase in pain following the procedure.

Accepting New Patients

A rhizotomy is a targeted procedure designed to interrupt pain signals from specific nerves, providing significant relief for various chronic pain conditions. It involves different techniques, each suited to particular types of pain and patient needs.

Pain Treatment Institute is committed to offering the latest treatments to remove or relieve acute and chronic pain. Our pain management clinics are accepting new patients. Contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Our Pain Management Physicians

Dr Preston Harmon Top Pain Management Doctor in Frisco McKinney Plano Sherman and Rockwall
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