FAQ’s on Facet Block
What are Facet Joint Injections or Blocks?
The joints of the spine or facet joints are located on each level of vertebrae from the skull to the tailbone. These joints are small pieces of cartilage protruding off the main spinal column, and serve a number of functions for the spine. Facet joints provide spinal mobility and also house the spinal nerve roots that go from the spine to the limbs and organs. A facet joint block or injection serves to relieve pain in a patient who is experiencing symptoms of pain from a damaged facet joint.
What will a Facet Joint Injection treat?
There are multiple conditions that can arise when the facet joints are damaged. The most common cause behind complications in a facet joint is arthritic inflammation, which may arise from degradation of the cartilage due to normal usage of the spine. Even though the facet joint is a small area, the pain that arises can be quite severe due to the sensitivity of the surrounding tissue.
Inflammation produces a swelling response in these joints, which can hinder movement and be a source of pain. It is also possible for this swelling to compress one or more of the spinal nerve roots housed by the facet joints, causing additional symptoms beyond pain. Almost any condition of the facet joints that is the source of pain for the patient can benefit from a facet joint injection.
Our clinic is proud to offer these injections as a viable alternative for spinal surgery.
How is a Facet Joint Injection performed?
Facet joint injections are offered a non-operative, noninvasive outpatient procedure. Patients will not need to be sedated for the injection, but do have it as an available option if they desire. Anesthetic will be applied to the site of injection, with the injection needle guided into the afflicted facet joint through the use of fluoroscopic imaging. This is a technique that makes used of rapidly taken X-rays to create a real-time image of where the needle is in the patient, allowing for careful control of where the needle resides.
Once the needle has been positioned correctly, a numbing agent will be injected into the joint to provide pain relief. It is common for there to be a secondary steroidal component of these injections, which is given to help combat the inflammation present. Some patients may also receive this injection outside the facet joint, providing pain relief to the areas surrounding the cartilage. This is performed in instances where arthritic inflammation has spread outside the joint, potentially causing other complications in surrounding tissues.
How well do Facet Joint Injections work?
As with every procedure, there is a chance that relief will not be obtained. The success rate for facet joint injections at our clinic is roughly 75%, with the amount of relief obtained varying from patient to patient. The average duration of relief obtained can range from only two weeks to multiple months of relief. Patients will react with varying degrees of success to the treatment, but are able to repeat it as often as needed to maintain a state of relief.
Very little risk is associated with this injection, with the main risks being little bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction at the site of injection. Certain patients are at risk for an allergic reaction to the medication used, but this is normally negated through monitoring the patient in the hours following injection.
What is the bottom line with Facet Joint Injections?
The injection offered by our clinic is simply the best treatment available to patients suffering from facet joint pain who do not wish to undergo surgical corrective methods.
If you or someone you know is a chronic low back pain patient, San Diego’s pain management clinic is here to help you. The facet joint block or injection can provide lasting pain relief and allow more function in the joint. This low-risk procedure is very effective in most cases.
Call the California Pain Network today to be connected with San Diego pain management that is expert, caring and compassionate!