Facet Joint Blocks: Diagnose and Treat Your Chronic Pain

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What is Facet Joint Block?

A Facet Joint Block is an injection of local anesthetic and steroid into a facet joint. These are the joints in the spine that allow movement including extending and laterally rotating the spine. A facet joint block is used to confirm that a facet joint is the source of pain and to decrease inflammation from the joint. It is both therapeutic and diagnostic.

What can you expect during your visit?

When the procedure is done in the office, you will meet with your doctor in the exam room first. They will go over all the risks and benefits of this procedure. You will be taken to the exam room, placed in the prone position, and a fluoroscopy guidance machine will be brought into position. Your doctor will then numb the area with a local anesthetic and insert a facet needle as close to the medial branch nerve as possible. If it a lumbar facet joint block, a small amount of dye will then be injected through the needle to show the correct placement has been achieved. Once the placement is correct, the doctor will then inject the steroid through the needle. The needle is then removed. This is repeated 6 to 8 times depending on the scope of the injury. When the procedure is complete, the medical assistant will clean up the skin and place a bandage over the injection site. You will then be placed in a post procedure room for about 10 to 20 minutes and your pain levels will be reevaluated.

When the procedure is done in a facility, you will check into the facility an hour and a half in advance. You will be asked to fast for 6 hours prior to your procedure. You will be brought back and prepped by a nurse on staff. They will insert the IV for the conscious sedation. In the procedure room you will be placed in the prone position and a fluoroscopy guidance machine will be brought into position. Your doctor will then numb the area with a local anesthetic and insert a facet needle as close to the medial branch nerve as possible. If it a lumbar facet joint block, a small amount of dye will then be injected through the needle to show the correct placement has been achieved. Once the placement is correct, the doctor will then inject the steroid through the needle. The needle is then removed. This is repeated 6 to 8 times depending on the scope of the injury. 10 to 20 minutes and your pain levels will be reevaluated.

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What happens after the injection?

You will be asked not to drive for at least 24 hours after the procedure and you must have a driver drive you home from our office. The day of and the following day you may feel some discomfort in the injection areas. Additional injections and or other procedures may be needed for optimum relief of the facet joints.

How long will the pain relief last?

The duration of the pain relief will vary from patient to patient. It can last from only a few days to a matter of months.

Is there anything specific I need to tell my doctor prior to this procedure?

You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant, on blood thinners, diabetic, or if you have any other concerns you would like to address beforehand.

The above information is for general education purposes only. Please ask your doctor specific questions during your visit. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

At Oklahoma Pain Management, our specialists will make sure you get the treatment you need to find relief – so you can focus on what’s important.