How Long Does a Facet Joint Nerve Block Last?

Facet joint block is the injection of a local anesthetic and steroid medication into the facet joint. This procedure is done to reduce inflammation and irritation, which in turn reduces pain. The effect of the local anesthetic or anesthetic will wear off approximately six hours after the injection, but the amount of time you experience pain relief will vary. For some people, relief may only last a few weeks, while others may notice that the pain has gone away for months or even years.

If the pain recurs, additional injections can be administered. The immediate effect of the injection comes from the local anesthetic, which wears off in a few hours. The steroid starts to work in about 2 to 7 days and its effect may last for some time. Facet joint block is a minimally invasive procedure in which the doctor uses a fluoroscopy or a CT scan to guide the placement of an injection of medication into a facet joint to relieve pain.

Two diagnostic facet nerve blocks are performed to help determine if the pain is coming from facet joints. If you suffer from chronic back or neck pain, you may be a good candidate for facet joint injections. When you are taken to the procedure room, you will be placed face down with a pillow under your hips for lumbar facet nerve blocks or under your chest for cervical facet nerve blocks. Very small needles are placed inside the joint capsule and a small volume (usually about 1 ml) is placed in each joint.

Sometimes contrast material is injected into the joint and the placement of the needle is confirmed by radiographs or CT scans in real time. If the facet joint block is effective in relieving pain, the procedure may be repeated up to three times a year.Facet joints are small joints located between vertebrae that allow you to lean forward, backward, and turn from side to side. When injected with anti-inflammatory steroids and often also a local anesthetic, these joints can provide relief from lower back pain that radiates down the lower back and slightly down the back of the upper thighs and buttocks. It's important to know what to expect after receiving facet joint injections to be prepared for the recovery process.

Minimally invasive image-guided procedures, such as facet joint blockages, are usually performed on an outpatient basis by an interventional radiologist. Guided by real-time X-ray images or computed tomography, the doctor will insert the needle through the skin and into the facet joint being treated.

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