Facet Joint Injections
Performed by the award winning doctors in Las Vegas, Summerlin, Henderson, Paradise, and Spring Valley, Nevada
Patients referred for facet joint injections and medial branch blocks often show signs of facet degeneration caused by lumbar facet syndrome, neck pain, and other painful conditions. According to current research, approximately two-thirds of people in the United States suffer from back or neck pain at some time in their life span. In fact, chronic spine pain is the most common source of pain in the U.S. Facet injections and medial branch blocks are intended to alleviate this pain. In this capacity, they play a key role in a conservative pain management program for lower back and neck pain.
Along with their pain-relieving properties, facet joint injections and medial branch blocks have the added benefit of helping physicians identify the potential source of a patient’s pain. Through image-guided placement of the needle, powerful steroid medication and/or local anesthetic help to reduce inflammation in the facet joint area; therefore, confirming the facet joint as the cause of pain.
Facet Injections are generally non-to minimally invasive and are conservative in nature.
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What is a Facet Joint Injection?
Facet joint injections are nerve root blocks used to treat back (lumbar) and neck (cervical) pain. The procedure was first reported over 50 years ago as a conservative approach for treating back pain. Facet injections are a common form of nonsurgical treatment for pain in the lower back, which originates in the facet joints. Research has indicated that the facet joint area may account for up to 45% of back and neck pain reported by patients. During a facet joint injection, the physician injects a combination of long-lasting steroids such as dexamethasome and a local anesthetic such as lidocaine, bupivacaine, or mepivacaine into the facet joint area. The steroid medication and/or anesthetic reduces inflammation in that area, which helps to alleviate pain.
Lumbar and cervical facet blocks are also routinely used as diagnostic tools to help determine the cause of pain. If the pain disappears, it is likely that inflammation in the facet joint was the source. Studies concerning the outcome of facet joint injections for back pain have yielded favorable results for identifying and relieving the source of chronic pain.
How Are Facet Joint Injections Performed?
Prior to the procedure, the patient is positioned face-down on an x-ray table and the skin is sterilized and prepared for the injection. If sedation is needed, it will be delivered through an IV and vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing) will be monitored throughout the procedure. The physician will then use an anesthetic to numb the area and a fluoroscopic x-ray is used to guide the needle to the correct place. During the fluoroscope x-ray, dye is injected. The dye shows up on the x-ray image, so the doctor can watch where it goes. The doctor then injects the anesthetic and cortisone into the same area. The entire procedure takes about 15 minutes.
The goal of the facet joint injection is to locate and reduce the source of pain. Positive clinical outcomes have helped corroborate that facet joint injections are accurate in locating the source of pain, and at the same time can provide a significant therapeutic benefit. For example, during a controlled study of patients with lumbar pain, facet joint injections were responsible for 42% to 92% pain relief within the four weeks following the injections. Other studies have shown that successful facet joint injections also had the added benefit of preventing premature surgical interventions.