What is a Facet Joint Block?

“Facet blocks are typically used for patients who have pain primarily in their back coming from arthritic changes in the facet joints, or for mechanical low back pain. You may require multiple injections depending upon how many joints are involved” [1]

So What Does Facet Joint Block Treatment Involve?

This common procedure refers to a patient being given a local anaesthetic and steroid injection into a particular joint in their spine. It should be administered by an experienced Pain Specialist who has previously assessed your condition, asked you various questions about your pain, and reviewed your medical notes, in a prior consultation.

Did You Know That a Facet Joint Block Has Two Purposes?

These two functions comprise:

• Therapeutic treatment
• Diagnostic Investigation

Three Possible Outcomes After Treatment & Investigation

• Number 1: If your pain is not ameliorated, then this indicates to your Pain Specialist that the pain is unlikely to be emanating from the blocked facet joints. However, this provides a very important diagnostic indicator
• Number 2: If your original pain subsides for several hours, but then returns and doesn’t improve, this shows the Pain Specialist that your pain is likely to be emanating from the joints, and that the steroid was of no value. Once again, in this scenario, the block serves as an excellent diagnostic tool
• Number 3: If your pain dissipates after the block treatment, it could return later on the same day, and then improve again during the following few days. This informs the Pain Specialist that the steroid provided a long lasting solution to the pain you are experiencing. Moreover, the block provided therapeutic value [1].

Positive Results

Your Pain Specialist will repeat the facet joint block treatment, if he/she determines that it has provided you with a lasting solution for your joint pain. Further: “if you get a positive, short-term benefit, another procedure called radiofrequency lesioning may be done which may last months to years” [1].

Will the Facet Joint Block Treatment Be Painful?

As this potential solution is very popular, it has allowed researchers to collect data. This indicates that in the majority of instances, the most uncomfortable part of the treatment is the burning and stinging sensation of the numbing procedure. However, after you have had your first facet joint block, you will become familiar with the sensation, and know exactly what to expect. Further, of note, your Pain Specialist will always be on hand to help you with any concerns.


[1]. Brigham and Women’s Hospital (2021). “Facet and Medial Branch Blocks .”