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Your facet joints attach the vertebral bodies in your back together in order to allow your spine to flex and turn. In short, they provide stability for your body. The joints have opposing surfaces of cartilage, and anything from injury and stress to arthritis can cause them to increase back pain.

What is a facet block?

A facet block uses a mixture of anti-inflammatory medication (steroid/cortisone) to provide pain relief for an extended period of time by blocking the pain in the facet joints. At the beginning of the procedure, the injection site on your skin is cleaned. A contrast dye is then used to ensure that the needle is placed into the correct joint, followed by the injection itself.

What conditions does it treat?

A facet block can be placed in your cervical, lumbar, or thoracic area. Cervical facet joints are related to pain felt in the neck, head, shoulder, or arm. Lumbar facet joints are related to lower back, hip, buttocks, and leg pain, while thoracic facet joints can cause upper back and chest pain. A facet joint block can also be used to diagnose the cause of your pain by seeing how you respond to the block being placed in different areas.

What can I expect afterward?

After a facet block injection, you should avoid strenuous activity for a few days. Your doctor will give you specific instructions about driving, working, and carrying on with other daily activities.