Undergoing Rhizotomy Surgery for Severe Pain after a Car Accident

Facet joints, located at the back of the spine, are responsible for stability and flexibility of the spine. When these joints are injured, as in a rear-end car accident while waiting in traffic on I-80 in Des Moines, the patient may suffer from pain in the back and other areas.

The severity of pain can vary, but the effects can be debilitating and sometimes surgical intervention is required to restore quality of life. If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are suffering from pain in your back, you might have damage in your facet joints. Rhizotomy surgery may help relieve your pain.

What is rhizotomy surgery?

This surgery involves the severing of nerve roots in the spine that are causing pain. To perform rhizotomy surgery, the patient is placed under general anesthesia and must lie face down on the operating table. Once the problematic nerves are identified, they will be cut to stop the pain signal from traveling to the brain.

In a facet rhizotomy, though, the doctor may use a probe to apply radio frequency waves to the problematic nerves to interrupt the pain signals being sent to the brain. Talk to a doctor about the procedure and which option is right for you.

Are you a candidate for rhizotomy surgery?

Not all patients injured in a car crash are eligible for rhizotomy as a method for pain relief. Patients are thoroughly tested to determine any medical complications that could occur as a result of the treatment, response to anesthesia or other stresses associated with surgery.

Other treatment options are often exhausted prior to exploring the possibility of rhizotomy surgery, including injectable therapies. Rhizotomy is most often recommended for extreme cases where the injured party experiences difficulty walking or other effects of extreme nerve spasticity.


Rhizotomy surgery is an in-patient procedure and most often warrants at least one overnight stay in the hospital after the surgery. Patients who undergo rhizotomy for back pain after a car accident will almost immediately begin to receive physical therapy after the operation. Pain medication is often required to help cope with post-operational discomfort.

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved with rhizotomy surgery, and your surgeon should be able to review your specific concerns with you prior to the operation. Nerve damage is one typical risk associated with rhizotomy, as is sensation loss or alteration. Be sure to discuss these and any other concerns you have about these possible risks with your medical team.

But a facet rhizotomy using a radio frequency probe is an outpatient procedure that does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. Talk to your doctor about other requirements if undergoing this less invasive rhizotomy procedure.

In many cases, rhizotomy is a successful way to restore gait and reduce pain after a car accident. Your doctor will go over other details of the procedure and help you navigate the recovery period afterward to assess the effectiveness of the surgery or radio frequency procedure.

Call Walker, Billingsley & Bair if You Need Legal Help after an Accident

If you’ve sustained serious back injuries as the result of a car accident, you might be suffering physically, emotionally and financially.

There are multiple concerns that can add stress to your situation while you heal.

  • mounting medical bills (such as those from rhizotomy surgery or procedures).
  • lost time at work.
  • and, reduced ability to perform your job in the future.

If you need help after a motor vehicle accident, Walker, Billingsley & Bair are willing. Call us today at 888-435-9886 to set up a consultation to discuss your case with an attorney in Des Moines.

Corey Walker
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With over 20 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.