I walked out of there 70 to 90 percent pain free
For the better part of 40 years, Jack I. lived in fear of knowing that the simple act of stepping off a curb might trigger back pain that could leave him flat on his back, nursing pain that was so severe he couldn’t even go to work.
For Jack I., “It was like a miracle.” The treatment has now allowed Inge to play golf three times a week without debilitating pain.
Jack I. told Dr. Thomas about how years of taking pain medications, visits to chiropractors, and physical therapists had done little to bring him any long-term relief. After performing a history and physical examination, as part of the workup, Dr. Thomas ordered an MRI of Inge’s back. “He wouldn’t do a procedure on me without an MRI of my back,” Inge recalled. The scan revealed that Inge suffered from a degenerated spine, with bone spurs and arthritis in his back, which were felt to be the major contributors to the low back pain he was experiencing. With that information in hand, along with the clinical impression of low back pain due to facet joint dysfunction, Dr. Thomas initially recommended Inge to undergo image-guided diagnostic facet joint nerve injections to his low back. After receiving temporary relief with these injections, confirming the source of his pain due to the facet joints, Dr. Thomas then recommended radiofrequency neurotomy to the facet joint nerves for longer-term pain relief and functional gains.
Radiofrequency neurotomy is a minimally invasive therapeutic treatment to the spinal facet joint nerves, which works by interrupting the sensory nerve supply to the inflamed or irritated facet joints. The facet joints are the small joints located between each vertebra (spine bone), serving as “struts” that provide the spine with both stability and flexibility. After applying a local skin anesthetic, Dr. Thomas used fluoroscopy (x-ray) guidance to place special radiofrequency needles alongside the nerves that supply the facet joints. After testing to ensure that the needle tips were in the correct position, Dr. Thomas then applied thermal, radiofrequency energy to deactivate the nerves.
“I walked out of there 70 to 90 percent pain free,” Jack I. said. “Dr. Thomas hit right on the nerves that were causing my pain. My pain level has dropped to half of what it was.”
A successful radiofrequency neurotomy typically provides relief for six to 12 months, and some patients may enjoy pain relief for two years or longer. “My ultimate goal is to be pain-free for a least one year and maybe more,” Jack I. says.
But for now, he’s very grateful to Dr. Thomas for ensuring that the only thing standing between him and a good day on the links is a bad swing — not a bad back.
Dr. Michael A. Thomas is a board-certified neurosurgeon who practices general neurosurgery with a specialty in minimally invasive spine surgery, skull base and endoscopic brain surgery. He treats conditions and diseases affecting the nervous system, which includes the brain, spine, spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves. Dr. Thomas has been referred to as a patient-focused professional and a conscientious and skilled neurosurgeon by his colleagues. He is certified by the American Board of Osteopathic Surgeons with a Neurosurgical discipline and the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners.