Radio Frequency Facet Neurotomy (RFN)treatments have proven to offer excellent relief for whiplash sufferers. Research has identified that about 60% of the time chronic neck pain from car accidents is being caused by damage to the facet joints. In those cases the involvement of the facet joints can be ruled in or out with great accuracy. If ruled in the odds the RFN treatment will provide relief is very high.
It was long believed that chronic whiplash pain was caused by damaged
ligaments, tendons and muscle tissue in the
neck. (The "soft-tissues") It was believed that during a collision the
neck was flexed and extended beyond its normal range of motion and that
this caused microscopic tearing of the soft-tissues and that resulting
scar tissue irritated nerves and caused other problems. Researchers
began to question this because in a rear-end collision the most damage
theoretically should have occurred in the anterior (front) of the neck.
Yet, although anterior neck complaints were not uncommon they almost
always disappeared and the posterior neck and base of the skull was
where symptoms persisted. A group of Australian doctors, through much
testing, finally determined that that vast majority of the time the
symptoms were coming from the facet joints in the neck. Anesthetizing
the nerve to the joint provided relief until the anesthesia wore off.
Around 1995 biomechanical engineers, using very high speed moving x-ray
technology confirmed that the facet joints were jamming into each other
in whiplash accidents.
Today the conditon can be accurately diagnosed and treated. Anesthetic injections help diagnose the conditon and if confirmed a small 2 mm burn in the nerve that serves the facet joint is make. In short, the wire that carries the pain signal to the brain is cut. The nerve ends will usually regenerate and reconnect in 9-15 months but the procedure can be repeated.