Rhizotomy and is Massage Good for this Procedure?

Massage for Rhizotomy

How painful is a rhizotomy?

You may experience some discomfort immediately after the procedure, such as bruising, soreness, or swelling at the injection site. Most patients are able to return to work and/or their normal daily activities the day following a facet rhizotomy. Your back may be sore for a few days after the procedure.

How successful is a rhizotomy?

Facet joint rhizotomies have a 70 to 80 % success rate in reducing or eliminating back pain. This usually lasts for a year or more. The nerves can regenerate and pain can recur. If this happens the procedure can be repeated.

What Is A Rhizotomy Procedure?

Least-invasive procedures can have names that not everyone is familiar with. For example, not many people without medical training know what a rhizotomy procedure is. However, if you experience back pain, rhizotomy surgery provides relief with the least invasive methods possible. Keep reading to learn about rhizotomy and endoscopic rhizotomy procedures.

What Does “Rhizotomy” Mean?

Doctors first used the word “rhizotomy” around 1910-1915. It comes from two root words: rhizo- (root) and -tomy (incision). The “roots” that the word refers to are the roots of your spinal nerves. That means when a doctor conducts a rhizotomy, they sever the nerve roots. Cutting the nerve roots removes the pain sensation. When back pain becomes chronic and severe, certain patients benefit from this procedure.

Radiofrequency Ablation And Endoscopic Rhizotomy

Two common types of rhizotomy are radiofrequency ablation and endoscopic rhizotomy. Both methods have the same goal, but they achieve that goal in different ways.

During a radiofrequency ablation procedure, the doctor uses heat to disable the nerve that causes the patient’s back pain. Radiofrequency ablation is a percutaneous procedure, meaning it involves a needle. This needle transfers a microelectrode that heats the targeted nerves. To pinpoint the nerve’s location, the doctor uses a fluoroscopic X-ray. Keep in mind that some people refer to this method simply as “rhizotomy,” so you may need to ask for clarification when talking about it.

Endoscopic rhizotomy involves using a small camera to find the affected location. The camera travels directly through the nerve branch, letting the doctor see the exact area of the problem nerves. Once they find the location to operate, they make a small incision on the nerve roots.

Which Method Works Better?

  • A doctor conducting an endoscopic rhizotomy can directly see the nerves instead of relying on an X-ray.
  • Many patients feel relief immediately after endoscopic rhizotomy. Meanwhile, it can take a month to feel the effects of radiofrequency ablation.
  • Radiofrequency ablation reduces pain for up to one year, but the benefits of an endoscopic rhizotomy can last for three to five years.
Massage for Rhizotomy

Scar tissue massage after back surgery

Scar tissue massage after back surgery can be very beneficial to patients. Whether you’ve had a laminectomy, discectomy (microdiscectomy), spinal fusion, vertebroplasty, or kyphoplasty, scar tissue is an evitable part of recovery. In fact, scar tissue after back surgery is a normal part of healing. As your incision site and wound heal, scar tissue will naturally form as your body produces collagen fibers to close the affected area. Generally, scar tissue (when remodeled properly) is not an issue.

However, in rare cases after back surgery, scar tissue can become painful. For instance, after a discectomy (or other back surgeries) scar tissue can form around the lumbar nerve root. When the scar tissue binds to nerve roots in the back with fibrous adhesions, this can be painful. The formation of scar tissue in and around the nerve roots after surgery is called “epidural fibrosis”.

Scar tissue doesn’t have to be permanent. During healing, remodeling (through exercise, massage, and icing) is key to promote elasticity, strength, and movement. To avoid “bad” scar tissue from forming, you’ve got to work that scar!

Post Surgery massage for Scar Tissue

Generally, scar tissue itself is not painful nor does it cause pain. The symptoms of built-up scar tissue (like tightness, muscle weakness, numbness) are where most issues lie. In saying this, in very rare cases after back surgery, epidural fibrosis can occur. To recap, epidural fibrosis is when scar tissue binds to nerve roots in your spine. This can be painful. When it comes to epidural fibrosis, pain is relieved after surgery, but then around the 6 to 12-week mark pain starts to creep back in.

There are actually 3 phases of scar formation and healing: inflammatory, proliferation, and remodelling. During the inflammatory phase, blood clotting starts and the incision looks red and inflamed. A few days after surgery, the proliferation phase begins where new tissue (collagen fibres) form to close the wound. The third stage is where the scar tissue forms and the area feels textured. This phase lasts for several weeks and months after surgery.  It’s during the remodelling phase that you should begin to work your scar tissue. You should not massage scar tissue until your incision has completely healed (at least two or more weeks out from surgery).

Exercise and movement after back surgery is the absolute key to reducing scar tissue build-up, avoiding complications associated with scar tissue (epidural fibrosis), and increasing healing, mobility, reducing tightness & more.

Scar tissue massage breaks down tough scar tissue, helps to remodel it, adds elasticity, and promotes area healing. Scar tissue massage is something that is most effective within two years of surgery.

  • Decrease scar tissue build-up. Excess scar tissue can make muscles stiff and weaker, making movement limited (and even causing the deformity or corrective surgery).
  • Helps improve blood flow, which boosts healing.
  • Helps to drain the area, cutting down swelling.
  • Helps with feelings of numbness, tingling, and soreness, rebuilding feeling and sensitivity to the area.
  • Increases range of motion by working out your constricted tissue.
  • It May help to reduce the physical appearance and proliferation of your scar.

Your scar is NOT ready for tissue massage if:

  • Your surgery was less than 2 weeks ago
  • The area is raised and scabbed
  • The area has drainage
  • The area hurts to touch
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Therapeutic Swedish Massage, Sports Massage Therapy in Santa Barbara, Goleta
Therapeutic Swedish Massage, Sports Massage Therapy, Massage for Rhizotomy in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.