Facet Block Injections
What are facet blocks?
A facet block is a diagnostic procedure to determine whether the source of chronic neck or back pain is stemming from facet joint injury or arthritis of the spine. The produce involves is an injection of local anesthetic into the damaged facet joint(s) along the lumbar spine for patients who may have facet joint-related neck or back pain. This procedure is primarily used as a diagnostic for radiofrequency ablation (RFA) candidacy; patients who respond well to two sets of bilateral facet blocks often proceed with the RFA, which provides more prolonged pain relief.
Who is a good candidate for facet blocks?
If you have chronic back or neck pain that has not been resolved with conservative treatments such as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications, you may benefit from facet block injections. If you have been previously diagnosed with cervical or lumbar spondylosis, aka spinal osteoarthritis, you may also benefit from facet blocks.
How is it done?
During a facet block injection, the physician will inject some local anesthetic into the suspected facet joints in the cervical spine or lumbar spine. The results should be immediate, and if this procedure provides you with even temporary relief, that is a positive indication that the physician has located the source of your pain. The doctor will then work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your condition.
What are the benefits and risks of facet block injections?
The benefits of the procedure include:
- Minimally-invasive: Facet block injections are minimally invasive, meaning that there is minimal risk of complications.
- Pain-relief: Facet blocks can help relieve back or neck pain, allowing you to get back on your feet and continue your normal activities.
- Quick: A facet block injection is an in-office procedure that takes around 5-10 minutes on average.
Patients may notice some discomfort, local bruising or minor swelling after the procedure, but this should pass in a few days. Any numbness immediately after the procedure is due to the anesthesia and should pass within a few hours.