One of the most common sources of back pain are the facet joints. These 48 joints are responsible for the bending and twisting motion of your spine and span from the base of the skull to the top of the tailbone. When these joints become inflamed they have the potential to cause a significant amount of pain, especially with bending and twisting. Often the only way to get lasting pain relief is to make the nerves stop transmitting pain signals. A Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) can provide relief lasting for many months but in order to narrow down the source of pain, we have to perform other procedures first.

Contact us today to learn more about the treatment options we offer for painful Facet Joints as well as other sources of back pain.

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Facet Joint Injections

The first step when you’re experiencing pain in one or several facet joints is usually to perform an injection into the joint itself. We inject a small amount of numbing fluid that will provide immediate relief and a corticosteroid that provides relief for several weeks. If this injection is successful at providing relief then it confirms that the pain is in your facet joint and not another area of your spine. If your pain returns, you might be a good candidate for a Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA).

Medial Branch Block

Before we perform a Radio Frequency Ablation we have to do another type of injection. This injection is called a Medial Branch Block. An MBB is an injection of a small amount of numbing medication into the area around the nerves connected to the facet joint. These nerves send the pain signals to your brain. They aren’t the same nerves that control the muscles or feeling in the surrounding area so numbing them doesn’t affect your ability to move or feel in other parts of your body. If the injection provides relief then it can mean you are a good candidate for a radio frequency ablation. Because this injection is purely diagnostic, the pain relief will only last for a few hours.

Radio Frequency Ablation

A Radio Frequency Ablation involves the same nerves as the Medial Branch Block but instead of simply numbing the nerves, we use needles to heat the nerve and stop it from transmitting pain signals. The pain relief from this procedure usually lasts several months.

For most patients, we can perform all of these injections in our office. They will take between 10 minutes and 30 minutes each.

Want to know more about Facet Joint Injections, Medial Branch Blocks, and Radio Frequency Ablation? 

Therapeutic Injections