What is it?

In order to confirm that the facet joints contribute to your pain, a test block (e.g. diagnostic block) is first performed at the level of the joints. A positive block is used as an indication, but is not an absolute guarantee that radiofrequency denervation will be successful. It is necessary to first do this, however, so that the facet denervation will be reimbursed.

Due to wear and tear (arthrosis), inflammation, an operation or an accident, there can be changes to the facet joints (mobile connections between the vertebrae). When this happens, the joints can become irritated and then cause pain in the neck, chest or lumbar area.

A ‘denervation’ of the facet joints can be useful in this case. Using a radiofrequency current, the relevant nerve branch is heated. This heat affects the nerve and blocks the pain signals that travel along the nerve pathways of the facet joints towards the brain. With the (temporary) denervation, the pain can be reduced for a longer period.

A test block and a facet denervation cannot be performed on the same day. Denervation can be performed during the first three months after a positive test treatment.

Treatment procedure

On the day of the treatment, you will come to the hospital. Please follow these rules regarding fasting:

Type of food:Example:Allowed until at the latest:
Normal mealmidnight before the surgery or examination
Light meale.g. a sandwich or toast with jam. Deep-fried/fatty foods or meat are not includedsix hours prior to the procedure or examination
Dairy productsMilk, bottle-feeding for a child, yoghurt...six hours prior to the procedure or examination
Breastfeedingfour hours prior to the procedure or examination
DrinksAs wished: water, sugar water, sports drinks, clear fruit juices without pulp (apple juice, grape juice)

a cup: clear tea and coffee without milk
Recommended: continue to drink up to two hours before the procedure or examination
(Exceptions: gastrointestinal surgery. You should follow the instructions of your attending physician).

No milk products

By law, you may not drive any vehicles or operate machinery the morning after the treatment. Therefore, make sure that somebody can take you to and from the hospital. The physician or nurses can provide you with certificates, if required. If you wish, the nurses of the Pain Centre can order a taxi for you.

Always inform the physician if:

  • you have diabetes or a heart condition
  • you are (or could be) pregnant
  • you are allergic to certain medications, contrast agents or iodine (disinfectant), latex, etcetera
  • you take blood thinners

If you have reduced kidney function, have recently experienced thrombosis or a heart attack or have had a stent implanted, you must contact your attending physician first.

You will find an overview of the medications that you must stop taking before the treatment (and when) in the leaflet at the bottom of this page.


You can find more information in the leaflet at the bottom of the page.

  • the test block process
  • course of the admission and the treatment
  • the possible side effects and complications

Centres and specialist areas

Pain Centre

Latest publication date: 11/08/2021