The Facet Block (or Medial Branch Block) procedure is performed to determine whether a facet joint is a source of pain or as a means of pain relief. Facet joints are located along the entire spine’s entire length from the neck to the lower back, where one vertebra slightly overlaps another. These joints guide the spine’s movement.
After the patient is given a local anesthetic, a facet joint block is done by inserting a needle into the facet joint area (s). The doctor watches on a fluoroscope low dose x-ray as he or she inserts the needle to make sure it goes into the correct spot. Once the doctor is sure the needle is in the right area, they will inject a small amount of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory cortisone. Sedation may be offered for patient comfort.
The entire procedure usually lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.
Most patients can walk immediately after the procedure. You’ll be monitored for a short period before you can leave.
If the facet joints are the cause of the pain, the patient will experience pain relief. The pain may be relieved for several hours to several months. Radiofrequency lesioning may be needed to provide more extended relief.
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