Facet Block Injections
What is a Facet Block Injection?
A facet joint injection may be utilized for either diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
Why Would I Need a Facet Block Injection?
The human spine is made up of the spinal cord, surrounded by bones called vertebrae, spinal discs that cushion the bones, and joints called facet joints that allow for flexibility and movement of the spine.
Over time, the discs can begin to flatten and lose height or begin to bulge. The facet joints begin to degenerate as a typical process of aging and will lose cartilage.
When these facet joints lose cartilage, it can cause the vertebrae to rub against each other, causing pain, stiffness, and other problems.
Arthritis can occur anywhere in the back—the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (mid-back), or the lumbar spine (lower back). However, the pain from damaged joints of the spine may radiate to the extremities.
While this condition cannot be cured, doctors may begin treatment with conservative methods such as physical therapy and the use of acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medications. However, if these first-step methods do not work, a physician might recommend steroid injections to relieve or eliminate pain from osteoarthritis in the neck or back. One common type of steroidal injection for the relief of back pain is a facet block injection.
For example, a physician may inject the suspected damaged joint with anesthetic (facet block) to see if that injection improves the patient’s pain. If so, then a damaged facet joint was likely the problem. For therapeutic reasons, a doctor would then inject the facet joint with a steroid medication to provide longer lasting relief.
In some cases, doctors may wish to follow up with another procedure, called radio frequency ablation to destroy the affected nerves and prevent them from sending pain signals to the brain. Radio frequency ablation is a more permanent solution, but it may not be necessary in every case.
Is a Facet Block Right for Me?
Contact Elite Spine & Orthopedics at (855) 77-SPINE to ask your doctor if a facet block injection may be the right solution for your back pain. You can also review Frequently Asked Questions about Facet Block Injections in our Patient Resources tab.