Low back pain is the most common back pain experienced by Americans. It is estimated that roughly 40-70% of adults will experience some sort of low back pain in their lifetime. Facet joint block injections have long been the preferred treatment for patients suffering from this form of chronic back pain as the process is relatively simple and minimally invasive. This procedure involves a precise injection to the afflicted facet joints located between the vertebra.
A combination of a local anesthetic and corticosteroid anti-inflammatory medication is used to diagnose and treat the facet joint. A successful procedure will confirm that the facet joint is the source of the patient’s chronic back pain. Since local anesthetic is used, pain specialists have the advantage of being able to get immediate feedback.
Conditions Treated by Facet Joint Block Injections
A facet joint block injection is the recommended treatment for patients suffering from facet syndrome or spinal arthritis. Facet syndrome comes as a result of the facet joint(s) becoming inflamed or irritated. Spinal arthritis occurs when the cartilage lining of the joint surface wears thin. This causes bone spurs, inflammation, and the joint to enlarge.
These conditions can leave the patient in severe pain and make it difficult to perform seemingly rudimentary daily tasks. The purpose of this procedure is to identify the source of pain and provide immediate treatment.
How a Facet Joint Block Injection is Performed
This procedure involves the use of a small needle, and fluoroscopy used to apply anesthetic and medication while also being used as an x-ray guide. The procedure is relatively painless, but the anesthetic makes it more tolerable. It all can be broken down into three simple steps:
The point of entry is numbed with a local anesthetic injection.
Fluoroscopic x-ray is used to guide the needle to the facet joint. The needle injects a contrast dye into the joint to identify correct placement.
A mixture of a numbing anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroid medication is injected into the joint through a thin needle. Multiple injections may be necessary depending on the location of the pain. The facet joint is then confirmed as the source of pain if the patient experiences immediate pain relief.
Facet joint block injections can be performed up to three times annually and the entire process takes roughly 20 to 30 minutes. There will be little pain immediately after the procedure, but the patient is likely to experience some pain as the numbing wears off. It can take a total of 5 to 10 days after the procedure for steroid medication to dissipate.
The pain experts at Garden State Pain Control can analyze your specific chronic back pain and pursue the option of a facet joint block injection if necessary. Request an appointment today at one of our New Jersey locations and take the first step on the road to a life free of chronic back pain.