Candidates for Facet Blocks

Candidates for Facet Blocks

Facet blocks are a medical procedure that can be used as a diagnostic tool or as a treatment tool. Facet blocks derive their name from the part of the body they are used on. All people have facet joints in their spine. These joints enable movement but also limit the range of movement to a safe level. While these facet joints typically work without problems, over time, the joints can wear down and begin causing pain. Facet blocks are used to determine which facet joint the pain is coming from and can also be used to treat the pain caused by these facet joints.

While any kind of procedure involving the spine can seem scary, facet blocks are relatively safe when performed by a pain medicine specialist. This specialized procedure involves giving the patient a local anesthetic before inserting the needle. Then, the needle is inserted into the area of the facet joint that is believed to be the source of the problem. The needle is guided by a fluoroscope low dose x-ray to ensure the needle is going into the correct area. After the needle is properly inserted, a small amount of anesthetic or anti-inflammatory cortisone is added to the area. The local anesthesia allows the procedure to be performed without any pain felt by the patient.

Facet block procedures take about 20-30 minutes to complete. They are outpatient procedures that are minimally invasive and can have the patient in and out of the procedure room quickly. This is also preferable to making an incision because it requires less anesthesia, less downtime for the patient, and offers less chance of an infection. The recovery time of facet blocks is little to none. Most patients are able to walk out of the procedure immediately after it is over.

The primary candidates for facet blocks are those that have neck and back pain or leg pain that stems from inflammation, irritation, or arthritis of the facet joints. Many people suffering from these conditions go for months before they get an accurate diagnosis and even longer before they find a treatment method that works well for their pain. After receiving a facet block, if a patient experiences pain relief, they will finally know which facet joint was the source of pain. If not, the physician now knows the pain is coming from somewhere else. If pain relief is experienced, it will typically last between a few hours to a few months depending on how much of the medicine was given. There are other forms of pain management that can provide long term relief.

Facet blocks are highly effective for those suffering from neck, back, or leg pain. Dealing with chronic pain can cause people to become hopeless and feel they may never find relief. Fortunately, facet blocks can act as a diagnostic tool by determining which facet is the source of pain, and as a treatment tool by providing pain relief to the damaged facet. If you are suffering from neck, back, or leg pain, be sure to speak to your pain management specialist about facet blocks as soon as possible.