Facet Joint Injections and Blocks
The facet joints are responsible for bending, flexing, and twisting the spine. Like all joints in the body, the facet joints are covered in cartilage that enables smooth and pain-free movement. Facet joints that are effected by osteoarthritis (OA), a disease characterized by the wearing away of joint cartilage and soft tissues, cause spine pain. Non-surgical treatment options that may be used to treat mild to moderate cases of facet joint OA include rest, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. Severe facet joint OA or facet joint OA that does not respond to non-surgical treatment options may require minimally invasive surgical intervention in the form of a facet joint injection and block. The spine specialists at Hope Orthopedics regularly perform facet joint injection and block procedures that are customized to meet the unique needs of patients.
A Facet Joint Injection and Block Procedure at Hope Orthopedics
Patients who have their facet joint injection and block procedure at Hope Orthopedics experience little to no pain or discomfort during their procedure. A mild sedative is taken to help patients feel relaxed. Local anesthesia is administered via injection into the surgical area so patients are completely numb. After patients are placed in a comfortable position, the procedure is performed step-by-step as follows:
- X-ray guiding needle insertion. A needle is gently guided into the facet joint.
- Injection. Anesthetic and corticosteroid medications are injected into the joint. Nerves near the facet joints are numbed and thus blocked from sending pain signals to the brain.
A tiny dressing is placed over the mark the needle made. Total procedure time is approximately 15-30 minutes.
Patients are able to walk but not drive after their procedure. Patients may the leave office once a family member or friend is ready to drive them home. Ice and over-the-counter pain medications may be used to easily control pain and soreness. Patients are advised to rest after their procedure. A short 24-hour recovery is all that is needed before patients can return to their day-to-day lives.
The anesthetic medication used during the procedure numbs the joint and nerves and quickly decreases pain. The corticosteroid works to reduce inflammation caused by OA. In most cases, facet joint injections are used as a part of a comprehensive OA treatment plan geared towards decreasing inflammation and pain. Patients who are experiencing pain that is associated with spine movement are encouraged to schedule an appointment with one of the spine specialists at Hope Orthopedics.