Patients who have arthritic pain of the neck, mid-back and the low back commonly suffer from facet joint pain. Facet joints are the small joints at the back of the spine that allow the spine to flex, extend and rotate. These joints can become arthritic or damaged and can commonly result in chronic neck, mid-back and low back pain.
A facet injection uses both numbing medication and steroid and can be both diagnostic (confirming the diagnosis of facet joint pain) and therapeutic (treating the pain).
A similar injection, a medial branch block uses numbing medication only to confirm the diagnosis of facet joint pain.
The medial branch nerve communicates pain information from a painful facet joint to the brain, therefore, a medial branch block is a diagnostic injections that acts to “block” this pain.
If a patient receives hour(s) of pain relief after a facet joint injection or a medial branch block, the injections helps to confirm the diagnosis of facet joint pain.
Your provider will direct which injection (facet joint injection or medial branch block) is better suited for your condition.
If you have two positive diagnostic injections (hours of relief after a FJI or MBB), your diagnosis of facet joint pain is confirmed. Therefore, you will likely benefit from a radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedure that aims to provide patients with 6 to 18 months of relief from facet joint pain.