The crutch of back pain will affect the majority of us at one point or another and when it does, it can transform even the smallest of activities, into a painful ordeal especially when we get older.
Whether symptoms are minor or severe, shooting or aching, back pain comes in many forms. And while there is no instant cure, facet block injections can help to provide you with some therapeutic relief.
What are facet block injections?
Facet block injections are administered to provide neck/back pain sufferers with some relief as they work through the long and often painful, rehabilitation process. These injections release medication (local anesthesia to numb pain and steroids to reduce inflammation) straight to the source, which is in or around the spine.
In order to treat patients as effectively as possible, there are a number of different facet block injections available and the injection received will of course depend on the patients particular needs.
1)Â Â Â Â Â Epidural Injection
This form of facet block injection is inserted in the space that surrounds the spinal cord and has been used to ease lower back pain and sciatica since 1952.
The primary aim of an epidural injection is simply to provide pain relief. At times, simply the injection is enough to ease a patients suffering, but an epidural is often administered in conjunction with a prescribed physical therapy regime.
Like all facet block injections, the effects of an epidural are only temporary and patients can expect to experience anywhere from a week to a year of pain relief.
Often used when a patient suffers an acute episode of back or leg pain, up to three epidurals can be given in one year.
2)Â Â Â Â Â Nerve root block injection
A nerve root block, also known as a transforminal epidural injection, will target an individual nerve in the spine. Back/leg pain can occur when a nerve root becomes compressed and then inflamed.
Used for diagnostic purposes when an MRI fails to clearly identify which nerve is responsible for the pain, a nerve root block injection will be inserted to help locate the nerve in question.
Nerve root blocks can also be given to provide pain relief or to treat far lateral disc herniation, which occurs when a disc bursts outside of the spine.
3)Â Â Â Â Â Intra-articular facet or sacroiliac joint injection
The sacroiliac joints are found next to the spine and connect he sacrum with the hip bones on either side.
Intra-articular facets or sacroiliac joint injections are administered to diagnose or treat lower back pain and sciatica symptoms associated with sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Targeting the joints that connect the bones in the spine, this type of injection can be given to diagnose pain or to treat pain separately, or as a single injection.
4)Â Â Â Â Â Medial branch block injection
Last on the list is the medial branch block injection that is used to diagnose back pain by targeting the nerve supply to your facet joints.
The medial branch nerves are the tiny nerves that come out from the facet joints in the spine. These nerves are responsible for transferring the pain signals from the facet joints and a medial branch block injection will work to block the pain signal from a specific joint in the spine.
Which injection is right for you?
If you are experiencing lower back pain or sciatica and the pain is affecting your daily life, meet with you physician as soon as possible to learn more about facet block injections and to discover which type of injection may help to ease your pain.