Facet Joint Injections and Medial Branch Blocks

If you are living with chronic, unmanageable pain from facet syndrome or spinal arthritis, these therapeutic approaches offer both a quick resolution and long-term relief.

Pain stemming from the facet joints is termed “facet syndrome.” The facet joints become inflamed and may cause pain, soreness and stiffness.

Facet joints are located on the back (posterior) of the spine on each side where two adjacent vertebrae meet. The facet joints provide stability and permit the spine to bend and twist. These joints experience constant and repetitive motion, which causes them to become worn or torn and can result in pain. Facet syndrome occurs when one or more of these joints become inflamed or irritated. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage lining the joint surface shrinks and wears thin, causing stress on the bone (bone spurs), inflammation, and enlargement of the joint. You can have facet syndrome in you Cervical, Thoracic or Lumbar Spine.

Facet joint injection or medial branch blocks are used as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool to confirm that facet syndrome is the source of your pain. In addition, Radiofrequency Neurotomy (Rhizotomy) may be recommended to offer the prolonged relief.

How are the injections done?

These injections will be done in a sterile procedure room at one of Dr. Anden’s chosen facilities. You will be brought into the procedure room and asked to lie on your stomach. Your clothes will be moved and the targeted area will be cleaned. Once Dr. Anden has located the injection site using a live x-ray, she will numb your skin and guide her needle into place.

The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes and the majority of patients do extremely well. You will not be put to sleep for this procedure, as it only takes a few quick minutes.

You can return to your regular, normal activity following the shot.

You will be made a 3 week follow-up appointment in order to track and document your improvement.

Does my insurance cover this?

Most insurance’s that Dr. Anden takes should cover a spinal injection. Our office is very proactive in getting your injection pre-authorized with your insurance, if required.

Every insurance plan and every patient is different. There is no way for our office to know how much of the injection will be covered. You can contact your insurance they should be able to give you an “out of pocket” cost, if any.

What are the Risks?

Risks of spinal injections may include a very small chance of bleeding, infection or injury to local neurovascular structures in the vicinity of the targeted structures. You should make your physician aware of any blood thinning medication you are taking that may increase your risk of bleeding during the procedure.

Potential side effects associated with cortisone injections are as follows:

  • Headache
  • Facial flushing / redness
  • “Caffeinated” feeling or not sleeping
  • Post injection flare up of pain
  • Tenderness or redness near the injection site.

All side effects will subside a few days following the injection.

What happens after my injection?

The steroid can take 3-5 days to begin helping.

You may have relief that day, but that is related to the numbing agent and will only last a few hours. You pain may increase for 1-2 days while waiting for the steroid to kick in. Relief from a single injection usually lasts from 3 months to a year, depending on each patient’s condition.

You will be asked to make a follow-up appointment for 3 weeks, so we are able to document your improvement. You may return to work or other normal activity. It is always best to continue at home stretching and exercises which can strengthen your core and improve your mobility. Ice and heat can always be used at home on an “as needed” basis.