Facet Joint Block Injections

Facet Joint Block Injections

Each vertebra in the spine is connected to the vertebra above and below it by facet joints, which are located on both sides of the rear of the spine.  A facet joint block can be both diagnostic and therapeutic for back or neck pain.  Facet joint block injections can confirm whether the facet joints are indeed the source of pain and can help relieve the pain and inflammation.

Guided by fluoroscopic x-ray, a needle is placed into the facet joint after the area has been anesthetized with local anesthetic.  The correct placement of the needle is confirmed by injection contrast dye into the joint.  A combination of a numbing anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory steroid medication is delivered to the joint through a thin needle.  Depending on the location of pain, one or more injections may be administered.  If the pain subsides after the facet join block injection, this suggests that the facet joint (or joints) injected were the cause of pain.

Back or neck pain may disappear immediately after a successful block.  However, once the numbing effect of the anesthetic wears off, the pain may return.  It usually takes 5-10 days for the steroid medication to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.  Effects may last several days or several months.  Up to three injections may be given per year.

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Comprehensive Pain Management Center