Last updated: May 22, 2020

Facet Joint Thermal Ablation

The facet joints are located on the posterior aspect of the spine, with one located on each side. The facet joints link each vertebra of the spine together providing stability and enabling motion at each level. They can be found in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. Facet joints are synovial joints which have articular cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. Articular cartilage has a smooth, shiny surface allowing the ends of the bones to slide freely over one another. Each joint is also surrounded by a protective sleeve of soft tissue called a capsule, and is lubricated by synovial fluid. Each joint can be a source of pain if irritated or inflamed.

Depending on what level the facet joint is located, irritation can produce pain of the neck, back, arm or leg. Facet joints, like other synovial joints, are susceptible to wear-and-tear, degeneration, inflammation and arthritic changes. Inflammation and degenerative changes to the facet joints may result in pain, loss of motion, and if severe enough, encroachment or pinching of the nerve exiting the spinal column.

The goal of facet joint ablation is to deaden the pain-producing nerve of the facet joint and clean off any arthritic and degenerative changes with a laser. This is a minimally invasive procedure, where the surgeon makes a small incision near the affected facet joint. Through a series of tubes, the surgeon inserts surgical instruments, an endoscope and laser to perform the ablation. The patient may feel immediate relief, and recovery time is short. due to this minimally invasive approach.


  • Facet Disease
  • Facet Hypertrophy
  • Spinal Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Spondylosis
  • Months of conservative care with no relief
This page was published on Jul 20, 2017, modified on May 22, 2020 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist in New Jersey, is board-certified and fellowship-trained in Interventional Spine and Pain Management and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is an expert in minimally invasive spinal procedures and non-surgical orthopedic care.

Dr. Freeman is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Interventional Pain Practice Society. In addition, he serves as the Immediate Past President of the New Jersey Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Dr. Freeman is well-known in the field of pain management as a leading pain management doctor, having been named one of "America's Top Physicians."