What Are Facet Joint Injections?

By Dr. Robert Josey on April 16, 2016

An illustration of a scan of the human spineAt Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin, we offer a comprehensive range of treatments for spinal conditions, ranging from non-invasive therapies to minimally invasive spine surgery. Among the most effective treatments in both the diagnosis and treatment of back pain are facet joint injections. At our Austin, TX practice, Drs. Robert Josey and Michael Moghimi use facet joint injections, also known as facet blocks, to pinpoint the cause of pain and provide significant, long-term relief from pain.

If you are suffering from back pain, we urge you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Josey or Dr. Moghimi today.

What Is a Facet Joint Injection?

The facet joints are the small, paired joints located between each vertebra of the spine and the neck. They are the reason the spine and neck are as flexible yet as stable as they are. The joints are lined with cartilage and a fluid-filled capsule that help to reduce friction between the bones of the spine. Arthritis occurs when this cartilage becomes worn and begins to shrink. Another condition, facet syndrome, occurs when one or more of the joints become inflamed or irritated. Both conditions can be extremely painful.

A facet joint injection involves the injection of a mixture of a numbing agent and a corticosteroid medication that work together to anesthetize the facet joint and block pain.

How Are Facet Joint Injections Used to Diagnose the Source of Back Pain?

Drs. Josey and Moghimi use x-ray technology to guide the injections to precise facet joints that are inflamed. When the mixture is injected into a specific joint, the patient will experience pain relief. If the pain relief is total, then that facet joint is almost certainly the sole source of the patient’s pain. If the pain relief is partial, then that facet joint is a contributor, but other facet joints may also be contributors.

How Are Facet Joint Injections Used to Treat Back Pain?

The numbing agent contained in the injectable mixture will provide immediate pain relief, which is used to diagnose the source of pain. At the same time, a corticosteroid medication is also introduced into the facet joint. This medication reduces inflammation, which can in turn provide long-term pain relief.

Facet joint injections can be administered up to three times within a six-month period. Immediately after treatment, patients may experience soreness at the treatment site for a day or two, with optimal pain relief setting in on the third or fourth day after treatment. The injections require only about half an hour to administer, followed by another half hour to an hour of observation. Facet joint injections have been used for years and have an excellent safety profile.

Learn More about Facet Joint Injections

If you have persistent back pain, then facet joint injections may provide an excellent treatment option for you. To find out whether you are a good candidate for facet joint injections, we invite you to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Robert Josey or Dr. Michael Moghimi by contacting Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin today.

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