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Facet Block

What is a Facet Block?

A Facet Block is an injection of local anesthetic (numbing medicine) and steroid medication into a joint in the spine. A medial branch block is similar, but the medication is placed outside the spinal joint space near the nerve that supplies the joint. This nerve is called the medial branch to the facet joint. You may require multiple injections depending upon how many joints are involved. Facet blocks are usually used to treat back pain from arthritic changes in the facet joints or for mechanical low back pain.

What are the pre-requisites in order to perform this procedure?

You may need to stop taking certain medications several days before the procedure, especially anticoagulant or “blood thinning” medications, as well as other prescription and/or over-the-counter medications, including herbal and vitamin supplements.

How long does the Facet block injection procedure take?

The procedure takes about 10 minutes.

Will the procedure hurt?

Most people report that the stinging/burning of the numbing medicine is the most uncomfortable part of the procedure though every person’s response to any procedure is individual.

What should I expect after the procedure and what are the side effects?

Your back or neck pain may be improved immediately after the injection from the local anesthetic medication. It is important to keep track of how you feel for the rest of the day. The steroid medication, when used, takes 2 or 3 days to have effect in most people and has the strongest effect in about 1 week.

What should I do after the procedure?

Some localized tenderness may be experienced for a couple of days after the injection. Using an ice pack with a barrier such as a towel between the skin and ice, three or four times a day will help this. You may take your prescribed pain medications after the injection. It is important that you keep track of the amount of pain relief you received as well as how long the pain relief lasted.