A facet block can provide long-lasting relief from arthritis and injuries. The relief may last for several weeks or longer after the procedure is finished.
Illnesses like arthritis can cause immense pain in areas of your body like the joints. When the pain is especially severe, you may not find relief by taking over-the-counter pain medications. You may need to undergo a special procedure called a facet block to experience longer lasting and more meaningful relief from the worst cases of joint pain.
What is a Facet Block?
A facet block is a procedure that is minimally invasive and designed to relieve the worst cases of joint pain. It requires the use of fluoroscopy or CT imaging to determine exactly where the joint pain is located. It is also performed in a doctor’s office or single day surgery center.
In most cases, a facet block is performed to address intense pain caused by arthritis or injuries. However, it may also be performed for other reasons as deemed appropriate by your doctor.
Prior to the injection being given, your doctor will numb the area with a local anesthetic. The anesthetic will remain effective for several hours after the injection is given.
The facet joints are joints that are located on either side of the vertebra in your neck and spine. They provide the spine with support and stability. They can be compromised by injuries or illnesses, like arthritis. These conditions cause the joints to become inflamed and painful. Facet blocks are also given to help patients tolerate physical therapy and exercises performed during rehabilitation. The injections have stronger pain relievers in them than over-the-counter medications. The injections also allow doctors in many cases to determine the underlying cause of a patient’s neck or back pain.
Administering a Facet Block
Facet blocks can be given under either local or general anesthesia. Patients who are particularly nervous about the injections or in a severe amount of pain may fare better to undergo general anesthesia prior to the injections being given.
You will be placed on your stomach prior to the procedure starting. Once you are sedated, your doctor will clean your skin with a local anesthetic solution. After the area is clean, your doctor will then place several small needles into the joint capsules in your neck and spine. A small volume of pain medication will be placed in each joint. During the procedure, your vital statistics like your heart and oxygen rates will be monitored. You will be taken to a recovery unit to be monitored further after the injections have been given.
Facet Block Recovery
After you are sent home to recover, you may be advised to limit your activities for a few days. You can expect to feel pain and stiffness in the joints after the local anesthetic wears off. The pain medication injected into your joints will take effect after one or two days.
Your doctor may also advise you to avoid showering or taking a bath for 24 hours after the injections are given. You can generally resume your normal routine within a few days after your procedure.