Like any joint in the body, facet joints may cause pain if they are irritated or inflamed. The facet joint block is a procedure where a local anesthetic medication (like the dentist uses to numb your mouth) with steroid is injected into the facet joint. The lidocaine numbs the area around the facet joint and the steroid helps reduce inflammation. If the pain resolves or is significantly reduced, the doctor or physician assistant may assume that the facet joint is a problem or at least part of the problem.
Facet blocks may be repeated. When the joint becomes irritated a third time, a rhizotomy procedure is recommended. This procedure cauterizes the tiny sensory nerve that innervates this facet region. The nerve may grow back in 6-18 months, and this procedure may be repeated. One may expect long term relief from a rhizotomy procedure if the facet blocks have effectively reduced pain.
Learn more about facet joints:
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