Facet Block Injections

A facet block injects anti-inflammatory medication into the small joints of either the cervical, thoracic, lumbar or sacral areas of the spine. These joints provide stability and motion to the spine. The medication is given to reduce swelling and relieve pain from inflammation and wear and tear in that joint. Complications are rare but may include swelling, infection, bleeding or temporary increase in pain.

When you arrive, a nurse will get a description of your pain and how you are managing daily activities. Your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and weight will be taken. Medications, allergies and a brief health history will be reviewed. It is important to let the nurse know if you have allergies to X-ray dye, Betadine or latex, if you are taking blood thinners, such as Coumadin, Plavix, Pradaxa or Lovenox, if you have diabetes or if you might be pregnant.

After discussing treatment with your physician and signing a consent form, you will go to the X-ray room where you will be helped onto the X-ray table into the best position for visualizing your spine. We will try to make you as comfortable as possible. Your skin will be cleaned with antiseptic and after numbing the skin in your back, the physician will place a needle into the joint space using X-ray guidance. A small amount of contrast dye may be injected to check the proper placement of the needle and a steroid mixture will be injected. The entire procedure takes less than a couple minutes.

You should plan to stay with us for 15 to 20 minutes after the procedure. A nurse will answer any questions you might have and review instructions and follow-up care.

When you go home

  • Activities: You may do your regular activities as tolerated. You can usually return to work and exercising on the next day.
  • Pain: Ice on the injection site and taking your regular pain medications will help with any discomfort.
  • Follow-up: Make an appointment for follow up or to repeat the injection in three to four weeks.

Many patients will have pain relief after the first or second injection but it may take up to seven days. Some patients will need three injections. If you experience little or no pain relief after the second injection, don’t be discouraged! Talk with your physician.

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