The facet joints are mini joints in the each segment of the spinal cord that supports and helps in movement. Facet joint can become painful because of spinal arthritis, sudden injury to the back or stress to the back. The facet joints are located in pairs in the back and the neck area. These joints have soft tissues between the bones and around the joint a fluid is presented that helps in lubricating the bones and avoid friction between the bones
The facet joint block
The facet block is an injection of numbing medication or sometimes local anesthesia. The injection is given in one or more than one small joint located in the spine or in the lower back. Multiple injections are given depending upon the severity of the pain and the joints affected.
Facet blocks are especially given to the patients who suffer pain in their back because of arthritis or patients who suffer lower back pain due to mechanical pressure
The facet block serves as a therapy or sometimes as a diagnostic to check if the pain is coming from the same area and therapy to relieve pain
The process is not advised if you have an active infection, flu, cold, fever a high blood pressure and if you are taking blood thinners. Make sure that you inform your physician about these conditions
What happens during the actual procedure?
The process will be done in an X-ray room. You will be positioned to lay on your stomach. The IV injections will be given into your hand or arm to help you feel relaxed. Your back will be cleaned and sterilized. Your back will be numbed with very tiny small needles initially you will feel a burning sensation, but the sensation will last in 15 seconds. Then bigger needles are introduced to the facet joints. Once the needles reach the correct location a steroid or local anesthesia is injected and the needles are placed out. Your skin will be cleaned once again and band aids will be applied. You will be kept in observation for a certain time and then with some guidelines you can ride back to your home
What are the risks of the procedure?
As the injections are used in facet blocks there is a risk of infections, bleeding, nerve injury or allergic reactions. In the case if local anesthesia spreads in the surrounding region you will feel numbness or weakness for several hours you may also experience increase pain in the injection site