Because there are many causes of spinal pain, doctors rely on diagnostic tests to try to pinpoint the source of pain. After a thorough examination, your doctor may determine your pain is caused by the facet joints in your spine. Facet joints are located between each of the vertebrae in the spine; and their function is to help the spine move correctly. Over time, you may develop facet arthritis, which causes inflammation and consequently, spinal pain.
The diagnostic procedures used to confirm inflammation of your facet joints are Medial Branch Blocks and Facet Injections. The medications used in these injections are anesthetics and steroids, which reduce pain and inflammation. While similar in most ways, the key difference between a medical branch block and a facet joint injection is the location of the actual injection. When administering a medial branch block, your doctor injects medication near the nerve that delivers pain signals from the facet joints to the brain, which is called the medial branch nerve. During a facet injection, your doctor injects medication directly into a facet joint.
How is it beneficial?
The medial branch block and facet injection are both used to relieve spinal pain, and are effective diagnostic tools for your doctor to determine the source of your pain. These procedures block the pain signals being sent from nerves in your spinal cord to your brain. If the source of your pain is caused by inflammation in the facet joints, you will feel relief from the procedure.
What can I expect?
Upon arrival, you will meet with one of healthcare professionals to discuss your medical history and to ask any questions you may have about the procedure.
You may receive IV sedation to help relax you. Once the area is sterilized, your doctor numbs the area and then injects a needle containing medications into the intended area. Following the procedure, you will rest in the recovery area. If sedated, you will need a responsible adult to accompany you home.