Facet Joint Injections / Medial Branch Blocks / Radiofrequency

The facet joints are often sources of pain that is located primarily in the neck and low back. Occasionally there is referral of the pain into the shoulders or buttock/hip region. These are small joints that act as flexible columns in the spine which are responsible for flexibility, motion, and support of the spine. The facet joints become painful when the disc becomes weak and there is more stress or weight on these small joints.

When you have failed conservative treatments (such as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy), your physician may recommend we try injections of the facet joints in the neck or low back. The goal of treating facet joint related pain is relief of the neck or back pain so that you are able to return to your normal daily activities.

Injection of the facet joints can give pain relief as well as help diagnosis the facet joint as the source of the pain. A medial branch block is an injection near the nerves that go into the facet joint. Both of these injections are used with the same goal: to diagnose the facet joint as the source of the pain.

When we have diagnosed you with facet joint related pain, you will likely be a candidate for radiofrequency ablation of the facet joint nerves. In the majority of people, ablation of the nerves gives 6-12 months of pain relief.

The quality and duration of pain relief varies from person to person and is dependent on the severity of the spine pathology, baseline activity level and overall health of the person. Your response to facet joint injections will help you and your physician plan for future treatment options.

The procedure is performed in our in-office x-ray suite and typically takes less than 15 minutes. More detailed information will be provided to you if your doctor recommends this treatment. That information will including risks vs. benefits, potential side effects, and post-procedure instructions.

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