Diagnostic facet nerve blocks are performed in the office. Patients are required to check in 30 minutes prior to their scheduled appointment time. Once taken back to the preparation area, a small IV catheter will be placed in your hand or arm. This catheter may be used to administer light sedation for the procedure. When taken to the procedure room, you will be placed on your stomach with a pillow under your hips for lumbar facet nerve blocks or under your chest for cervical facet nerve blocks. Blood pressure and oxygen saturation monitors will be applied. The injection sites will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and draped in a sterile manner. Using a small, thin needle, local anesthetic is injected to numb the skin and deep tissue, which may feel like a stinging and/or burning sensation. Assisted by fluoroscopy (X-ray), the physician is able to identify the facet joints. Because nerves cannot be seen under fluoroscopy, the needles are positioned using the bony landmarks, which indicate where the nerves should be. Local anesthetics are injected which numb the nerves. Four to 5 levels may be injected with each procedure. The procedure will take approximately 15-30 minutes to complete.
Two diagnostic facet nerve blocks are performed to help determine if your pain arises from the facet joints. Following two successful diagnostic facet nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation of the facet nerves may be recommended for possible long-term pain relief.