Let Universal Care help with Facet Block.
Joints of the spine, known as facet joints, are what makes it possible for you to twist, turn, and bend throughout every movement. If any of these joints becomes irritated or damaged, pain may be experienced as your spine moves.
- Nerves extend from the spinal cord through the facet joints and carry signals throughout the body.
- One possible source of relief is a facet block, an injection that can be used for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes.
How Facet Blocks Work
Facet blocks are administered with the use of a local anesthetic to ease discomfort from the injection. The numbing agent reduces sensation in the facet joint to prevent pain signals from being sent to the brain. Steroid medication is sometimes included with the injection to ease swelling that may be placing pressure on nearby nerves.
Facet Blocks to Diagnose Back Pain
Back pain, especially any discomfort originating in the lower spine area, can be difficult to diagnose, even with image tests. If the facet joint that’s “blocked” with the injection is the source of pain, you’ll experience immediate relief. Additional relief may be experienced when steroid medication is included with the injection when such medication takes effect, which is typically 2-5 days after receiving the facet block. If no additional relief occurs, testing may be done to determine if there are other causes of your pain.
Facet Blocks as a Treatment Option
When used a treatment option, facet block injections may include a time-release steroid. The slow release of the steroid may provide extended relief for several weeks or months following the initial injection. Relief experienced from the block may also make it easier to participate in physical therapy sessions without distracting pain. If the facet block is effective, it may be repeated up to three times throughout the year. If relief isn’t significant, other treatment options will likely be recommended.
When to Consider a Facet Block
Facet blocks are often considered when other attempts at easing neck or back pain aren’t effective or when a possible source of pain is suspected. Facet blocks will not resolve any underlying issues that may be contributing to your discomfort. For instance, if there is structural damage to the affected facet joint, surgery may become an option at some point if facet blocks aren’t effective.
Possible Signs of Facet Joint Pain
Facet joints are located close to nerves that can easily trigger pain. They also protect fluid-filled capsules near the joints. Radiating pain felt in arms, thighs, or legs and other symptoms of possible facet joint pain can be fairly vague or similar to what’s seen with other conditions. This is why facet blocks may help narrow down a pain source.
Consider keeping a pain journal to document your experiences with pain after receiving a facet block. This information can help your doctor determine if facet joints are the primary source of your discomfort. For therapeutic purposes, injections are often combined with appropriate exercises to improve the strength of back-supporting muscles and similar pain management treatments.