Skip to content


    Exciting News for WebMD Members!

    We've been busy behind the scenes building new message boards for you. You'll have new and easier ways to find messages, connect with others, and share your stories.

    And, this will all be available on your smartphone or other mobile device!

    What Do You Need to Do?

    The message board you're used to will be closing in the coming weeks. While many of your boards will be making the move to our new home, your posts will not. Want to keep a discussion going? Save posts you want to continue (this includes your member profile story), so that you can re-post them in the new message boards.

    Keep an eye here and on your email inbox, we'll be back in touch soon to give you all the information you need!

    Yours in health,
    WebMD Message Boards Management

    Includes Expert Content
    Burning the nerves
    georgelrod posted:
    After my last 3 lower spine injections gave me no relief, the Dr said I may want to consider " burning the nerves" in the same area where the injections were given.
    We did not have time to discuss this option but I cannot find any information about "burning the nerves" in your spine.
    Then Dr said if that did not work, spinal fusion may be necessary.
    I had a fusion that lasted 1 and a half yrs but now the pain has returned, worse than before, to the same area. The neurosurgeon has been reluctant to do another fusion before trying the other options first.

    Does any know about the "burning" option?

    Thanks, GEO
    Anon_1421 responded:
    Your doctor is probably talking about a rhizotomy, or nerve ablation; the doctor burns the nerve ends that are sending pain signals. They eventually grow back. Some folks have good results with this others not so much. Hope this helps, hope you find relief.
    georgelrod replied to Anon_1421's response:
    Thanks. With your help I was able to find a lot of info about this procedure. Like you said, it seems to work on about half the people, same as the injections. Just one more thing to try when everything else has failed. since so many of us live with pain in the 8-10 range, we just pray we can find a procedure that works before we run out of money. I am so sorry for those folks without any insurance. I have it but it still costs a lot in copay and things that are not covered. But the real cost is loss of work, loss of quality time with friends and family, and just loss of a quality life in general.
    Love and blessinngs to all of us
    Anon_1421 replied to georgelrod's response:
    You are more than welcome, glad to help. Hope if you try it (rhizotomy) that it works for you. If it doesn't and your doc advises surgery, please get a second opinion and do your homework! Fusion is supposed to stabilize the spine, but as for relieving pain doesn't seem to do that in a lot of cases. Please find out every thing you can about it before you make a decision. Good luck.
    David Maine, MD responded:
    A lumbar facet rhizotomy can be used as treatment for low back pain. This procedure will not generally help if pain is radiating into the extremities past the knees. We generally look for physical exam findings and correlating imaging to suggest the facets as a possible pain generator. Often prior to doing a rhizotomy a diagnostic block is first completed to evaluate the response. Success rates of a lumbar facet rhizotomy in the setting of a successful diagnostic block is estimated to be around 60% for 6-9 months of relief. Good luck and let us know if you have any more questions.
    eyepoetress responded:
    After 6 surgeries at L5-S1, I was still in a great deal of pain. The rhizotomy was suggested. I went ahead with it and besides gettng no pain relief, I was totally without bowel control for 6 months. I thought it was going to be forever. Eventually, I regained control, I guess from the nerve growing back together again. But, had I known, I never would have had the rhizotomy done.
    Not sayng you would have the same experience, but that was mine.
    georgelrod replied to David Maine, MD's response:
    my dr is going to do 5 blocks up & down the spine. she thinks she needs to expedite cause i have been a 10 for 5 months & about to lose my mind. 1 person sd problem controlling bowels for 6 mo. that
    would be bad.
    cweinbl responded:
    The success rate for a facet rhyzotomy (you call it "burning the nerve") is about 60%, nearly the same success rate for spinal fusion. Here is the latrest comprehensive research on all major spinal treatment interventions:;12;699-802.pdf . I had one that significantly increased my pain forvever. The slight risk is needle nerve root impingement. Ask the physician how many of them he or she has done first.

    I am somewhat mystefied (I've had DDD for 40 yeas, along with 4 failed spine surgeries, including multilevel fusion) with why your doctor would bring up having another fusion. Fusion exists for one purpose - to stabilize the spinal vertebra. Unless your fusion has had a disunion, why would he want to repeat it? Did your physican tell you that you have instability?

    Each additional surgery will produce more damage to spinal nerve roots, the vertebra and nearby tissue. It increases the risk of future osteophytes (bone spur). Worse yet, each surgery creates more fibrosis (scarring). Fibrosis can impinge a nerve roots, just the same as an osteophyte or extruded disc. My last mylogram resembled a road map of New Jersey from all of the fibrotic tissue. I would want at least 3 spine surgeons to tell me that I had a disunion and instability before I would have have another fusion. Get some new opinions. A spine surgeon is a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon who has completed a fellowship in spine surgery. They can typically be found at or near teaching hospitals. Good luck.
    notthesameshannon replied to georgelrod's response:
    I had a nerve ablation- burning of nerves in my C5-6 area, I am trying to hold off disk replacement, already had two of them.. but I;m posting to say how spot on your post is and only people who have gone through this stuff understands, really understands! Thanks
    k1961a replied to David Maine, MD's response:
    I know your post was 3 years ago but I am hoping your advice is still available. My doctor is going to fuse C1 through C5 and relieve nerve pain. He stated that 5 through 7 have fused themselves already. What mobility will I still have? How predictable are the risks of stroke, paralysis, nerve injury, non-union and infection. I have chosen a doctor at UCSF with a very good reputation. How long will the recovery last if I should make it through the surgery without difficulty. How long should my hospital stay be? I forgot to ask those questions when I spoke with my doctor. Your advice is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!
    Moll56 replied to notthesameshannon's response:
    I have bulging discs in C 5 & 6 and bone spurs. Trying to hold off On Disc replacement or fusion surgery. Any advice for me? Going to nerve ablation next month. Did you have success with this? Thanks!
    burnsoconnell responded:
    I have had nerve burning before which didn't help. This was along with injections in my neck and back.
    All of my neck vertebrae are fused except the top and bottom ones. I don't know the numbers, all I DO know that the two surgeries I had didn't relieve the pain.
    I'm frustrated.
    my suggestion would be to burn the nerves again, it's a better approach than what I took which was maybe going into surgery too soon?
    madmanacrossthewater replied to burnsoconnell's response:
    The neurosurgeons I have seen, believe me it has been a lot!! All of them told me the same thing. Never have spine surgery to reduce pain there is a 60% chance that the surgery will not result in any pain relief. Of that 60% there is a 40% chance that the surgery will result in greater pain. Not very good odds to me.
    annette030 replied to madmanacrossthewater's response:
    That's what my neurosurgeon told me also.

    Take care, Annette
    burnsoconnell replied to notthesameshannon's response:
    You've got the right idea about 'holding off' on disc replacement.
    My case is an extreme trail of surgeries that have yet to give me any relief.
    I'd hold off as long as it's not hurting your health.
    I"ve tried acupuncture, I swim, walk, light weights, massage, the whole gambit.
    Be well

    Featuring Experts

    Peter Abaci, MD , is certified in anesthesia and pain management by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Abaci received his undergraduate educat...More

    Helpful Tips

    neck/skull pain
    I have exactly the same pain problem from the sound of it. Does it feel like a hot slicing pain in the neck and an irritated nerve running ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    0 of 2 found this helpful

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.