When Facet Blocks Are Recommended
Facet blocks aren’t usually recommended until patients have tried other methods of pain relief without success, such as heat or cold therapy or the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Injections are a more direct approach to delivering medication to the affected area and may be recommended after 6-8 weeks of attempts at other methods of relief.
What a Facet Block Can Show
A facet block performed for testing purposes doesn’t reveal anything specific about nerves or discs of the spine. Instead, facet blocks are used to determine how you react to symptoms once nerves are soothed from the medication. Results that a patient reports may be combined with other diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, to pinpoint likely sources of pain. If a patient reports immediate relief from symptoms after the joint is numbed, it’s likely the source of pain. Additional signs of facet joint pain may include:
- Radiating pain in the neck, arms, or shoulders from cervical facet joints
- Discomfort in the chest, upper back, or arms from thoracic facet joints
- Pain experienced in the lower back, legs, hips, or buttocks from lumbar facet joints