Facet Thermal Ablation

A facet thermal ablation is a procedure that uses a laser to remove unwanted tissue from the facet joint. This laser burns the nerve in the joint that relays pain symptoms. The facet joints are located between the vertebrae, bones composing the spinal column. Each vertebra has two facet joints, one on each side. These joints connect the vertebrae allowing backward motions, forward movement, and twisting. With age, the connective tissue becomes more stiff and wears away, which can make the joint bones rub together. This rubbing may irritate a nerve and cause pain from movement. Pinched nerves are often the cause for many instances of lower back pain.

Spine surgeons often perform facet thermal ablation on patients with facet joint syndrome, facet disease, facet hypertrophy, or other less common facet joint conditions. General arthritis is also a condition that facet thermal ablation can address. Along with surgery, the doctor will also recommend a scheduled routine of light exercise, physical therapy, rest, and sometimes oral medication.

In thermal ablation, a heated laser destroys the nerve that senses pain in the joint. With the nerve gone, no pain signals are transmitted to the brain that can cause the patient discomfort. Most patients often feel relief right after the surgery, and since the Spine Institute specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, the recovery time is often faster than that of traditional surgery. Many patients can walk out of the clinic the same day of the facet thermal ablation.


  • Facet Joint Syndrome
  • Facet Hypertrophy
  • Facet Joint Disease
  • Arthritis


  • A small incision is made in the back using x-ray guidance
  • A round tube, called a depuy tube, is inserted into the incision
  • A laser is applied to the damaged joint through the depuy tube
  • The laser cleans and destroys the nerve that is irritating the joint

If you are looking to alleviate your lower back pain in New Jersey, The Spine Institute can help. Schedule an appointment with one of our many integrated spine clinics in New Jersey to learn if facet thermal ablation is right for you. You can also call our main office at 973-538-4444 for more information.