Each vertebrae in the spine is connected to the vertebrae above and below by facet joints.
Facet joints are located on both sides of the rear of the spine. A facet joint block can be both diagnostic and therapeutic for back and neck pain. A facet joint block injection is designed to help confirm whether facet joints are the source of pain and can relieve pain and inflammation.
What to expect during facet joint injection.
A small area of the skin is numbed with local anesthesia. Guided by fluroscopic x-ray a needle is placed into the facet joint. A combination of a numbing anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory steroid medication is delivered into the joint through a thin needle.
Back and neck pain may disappear immediately after a successful facet block. It usually take 5 to 10 days for the steroid medication to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Effects may last several days or several months. Up to three injections may be given within a year.
This is a minimally-invasive procedure. Pain and inflammation in the facet joint may be caused by arthritis, degeneration, general wear and tear of the spine, bone spurs or be injury related. Pain from the facet joints may radiate (shooting pains) down the arms or legs, similar to pain sensations associated with a herniated disc.