Back Pain Treatments: Facet Joint Block

Pain injections today are popular treatments for back pain because they often provide patients with months of pain relief with a very low rate of side effects. Pain injections may be used in cases of severe pain, when other more conservative treatments have failed, and in conjunction with conservative treatments such as physiotherapy. Pain injections involve the delivery of corticosteroids and other medicines to the site of joint or soft tissue injury. Pain injections are treatments, and will not cure the underlying disease or physical trauma to the area causing your back pain. Nevertheless, the procedure has its place for patients who need enough pain relief to continue their physical therapy. Also, the procedure is sometimes the only type of back pain therapy that works for some people. Many pain injection procedures are used to deliver numbing and blocking agents to the nerves that are inflamed as a result of herniated discs, other procedures, including facet joint blocks, deliver medications into facet joints that have been inflamed by injury or degeneration.

Facet Joint Block. If your physician thinks that the cause of your back pain is injury to one of more of the facet joints, the synovial joint between the superior and inferior articular processes of the vertebrae, they may indicate the Facet Joint Block procedure. A facet joint block is a procedure where a steroid and/or anesthetic medication is injected directly into the joint capsule.

Why they're done. Like SNRBs (Selective Nerve Root Block), the facet joint block procedure is used as a diagnostic tool and a back pain treatment. If the doctor suspects that the cause of back pain is irritation/inflammation to the capsule of the facet joint, the doctor may simultaneously diagnose and treat the cause of pain by successfully relieving symptoms as a result of the procedure. If an injection to the particular facet joint relieves pain, it can help the doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Facet joint blocks may treat osteoarthritis of the facet joints.

How they're done: Facet joint blocks are considered as a minimally invasive surgery. Though this procedure is classified as a surgery, there are few risks of side effects associated with it, and may be administered in an outpatient basis, inside or outside of a hospital. Facet joint blocks are performed under fluoroscopy. To have the procedure, the patient gets onto an X-Ray table and is asked to lie flat on their stomach, which their face on a pillow. The doctor will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area for to ease pain of the insertion of the needle that delivers the facet block injection. The doctor then guides the needle into the facet joint suspected of causing the symptoms. Once the needle has been guided into the proper place, the inflammation ore pain causing medication will be delivered into the joint capsule. If the facet joint is the cause of the pain, the patient may feel immediate relief in the office, and the patient's symptoms may continue to abate over the course of the next week. If the treatment is effective, your doctor may recommend up to three procedures per year for sustained pain relief.