Facet joints are small joints located in the neck and back keeping your spine both stable and flexible. Due to normal aging, these joints are subject to wear and tear that can lead to back and neck pain. Facet joint injections can ease inflammation and therefore reduce neck and back pain. This is an injection of numbing medicine. It bathes the medial branch nerves, which attach to the facet joints of your spine. These nerves hurt when facet joints are injured or diseased. The injection helps find the source of your pain. And it may relieve your pain for a brief time.
If you suffer from facet joint syndrome and would like additional information on this painful condition, please review our facet joint syndrome article. If you are interested in or scheduled for a medial branch blocks or facet joint injection, please please review the video and frequently asked questions below. Additionally, if you have questions or concerns do not hesitate to discuss them with your physician.
Medial Branch Blocks / Facet Joint Injections FAQ
Medial branch blocks and facet joint injections are office-based minimally invasive procedures that take approximately fifteen minutes to perform and may be done under either local anesthesia or sedation. Medial branch blocks and facet joint injections are used to diagnose diseases of the facet joints that produce pain in the neck, upper and lower back, and buttocks. Any joint in the body may be affected by arthritis and can therefore produce chronic pain.
Medial branch blocks and facet joint injections are diagnostic only. Meaning they only provide pain relief for several hours in order to confirm that the source of the pain is from the small joints of the spine (facet joints). Once confirmed a more permanent radiofrequency nerve ablation is performed.
This procedure is done under X-Ray guidance, and a anti-inflammatory pain medication (steroid) and local anesthetic (lidocaine) is injected directly to the source of the pain to diagnose the source of the pain and to alleviate discomfort.