Facet Block FAQs
What is a Facet Block?
A facet block is an injection into the facet joint for pain relief. Your facet joints are small paired joints in the back of the spine between the vertebrae. They support the spine while allowing movements such as twisting and turning. Various back issues may cause facet joint inflammation.
What does the Procedure Consist Of?
You lie on your stomach for the procedure, and your blood pressure and oxygen will be monitored. The doctor is guided by fluoroscopy during the procedure to ensure proper targeting of the needle.
Are There Any Risks with a Facet Block?
The facet block is generally a very safe procedure, but all procedures entail some risk. Possible side effects include infection, bleeding, nerve damage or an allergic reaction to the medication. Tell your doctor if you take any blood thinning medications, as these are contraindicated for facet block injections. If you have an active infection on the day of the procedure, let your doctor know.
The steroid injection may also cause temporary water retention and/or weight gain.
Does a Facet Block Hurt?
Most people feel just a slight stinging or burning sensation, not actual pain per se. Of course, each person reacts differently and while some patients may not feel any discomfort others will experience minor discomfort. The injection site may be sore for a day or two. Applying ice to the site should help.
How Long Does the Procedure Take?
While the actual injection takes but a few minutes, allow yourself at least an hour for the appointment. You will need to fill out paperwork, speak with your doctor and spend some time in the recovery room after the injection.
What Sort of Injection am I Receiving?
The injection consists of an anesthetic for numbing purposes and a steroid to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.
How Long Does a Facet Block Last?
You should feel immediate relief from the local anesthetic used prior to the facet block procedure. That relief is temporary, lasting just a few hours, but it does indicate that the facet joint is the cause of your pain. The injected steroid medication may take effect within a day to a week, and relief ranging from a week to a few months. It is not designed for permanent pain relief.
How Many Facet Block Injections Do I Need?
The number of facet block injections at one time depends on how many facet joints are involved.
How Often Do I Receive Facet Blocks?
Many patients benefit from up to three facet block injections within the space of six months. However, if the initial facet block does not relieve pain, further testing is necessary rather than a repeat injection. A patient who does not obtain relief from a facet block is likely suffering from another source of back pain.
Are There Any Restrictions After A Facet Block?
While you can perform normal activities after a facet block, you should not perform any strenuous activities for at least 24 hours post-injection.
Make sure you have someone to drive you home after the procedure and avoid placing any type of heat over the injection site for at least 24 hours. You can return to work the next day if your employment does not involve physical labor.