In cases where the facet joint itself is the pain generator, a facet block injection can be performed to alleviate the pain. Similar to SNRB?s, facet block injections are a diagnostic tool used to isolate and confirm the specific source of back pain for the patient. Additionally, facet blocks have a therapeutic effect as they numb the source of pain and soothe the inflammation for the patient.
The facet joints are paired joints in the back that have apposing surfaces of cartilage (cushioning tissue between the bones) and a surrounding capsule. Twisting injuries can cause damage to one or both facet joints, and cartilage degeneration associated with aging may also cause pain.
In a facet block procedure, a physician uses fluoroscopy (live x-ray) to guide the needle into the facet joint capsule to inject lidocaine (a numbing agent) and/or a steroid (an anti-inflammatory medication). If the patient?s pain goes away after the injection, it can be inferred that the pain generator is the specific facet joint capsule that has just been injected.
If the facet block procedure is effective in alleviating the patient’s low back pain, it is often considered reasonable for the procedure to be done up to three times per year. There are very few risks associated with this technique.