The Facet Blocks procedure is performed to determine whether a facet joint is a source of pain, or as a means of pain relief. Facet joints are located along the entire length of the spine from the neck to the lower back, where one vertebra slightly overlaps another. These joints guide the spine’s movement.
After the patient is given a local anesthetic, a facet joint block is done by inserting a needle into the area of the facet joint(s). The doctor watches on a fluoroscope low dose x-ray as he or she inserts the needle to make sure it goes into the correct area. Once the doctor is sure the needle is in the correct area, he or she will inject a small amount of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory cortisone. Sedation may be offered for patient comfort.
If you have neck, mid, low back, or leg pain stemming from inflammation, irritation or arthritis of your facet joints you may benefit from a facet injection.
The entire procedure usually lasts about 15 to 30 minutes.
Most patients are able to walk immediately after the procedure. You’ll be monitored for a short period of time before you can leave and are expected to take it easy for the rest of the day after the injection.
If the facet joints are the cause of the pain, the patient will experience pain relief. The pain may be relieved for several hours to several months. Radiofrequency lesioning may be needed to provide longer relief.