Could Joint Facet Blocks Be Helpful for Low Back Pain?

Anyone who suffers low back pain that is secondary to a herniated or ruptured disc knows the kind of pain involved. When a disc is bulging and putting pressure on a nerve, that pain can send bolts of electric shock like pain to your low back and down your hips and legs. The same thing can happen when a disc is ruptured or desiccated. A desiccated disc is one that has no fluid on the inside. It has essentially dried up and the vertebra is no longer supported. Pressure on the nerve root can cause extreme pain. People who suffer this kind of pain may not be able to walk under their own power, or take care of their personal needs by themselves for a few days, until the nerve and muscle inflammation has reduced. You will most likely need to see a physician with such severe pain. Your doctor will most likely examine the area, and palpate the tenderness. Prescription pain medication and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to help you cope with the pain and regain some mobility.

To better understand what a facet joint block does, you must first understand the anatomy of the area being treated. Your vertebral discs and the nerves are located between every two vertebral bodies. The facet joint is where the two vertebral bodies come together. The normal function of the discs in your spinal column is to allow for cushioning of the spine and for fluid movement of the upper and lower body. Without your vertebral discs you would not be able to walk or run. You wouldn't be able to participate in such sports as football, softball, or swimming. You would have difficulty in moving your body.

Many of us who have bulging, or ruptured discs have just those problems mentioned above. The discs have become ineffective in allowing for fluid range of motion. When you are suffering from nerve pain associated with a bulging or ruptured disc and you are still suffering after being treated medically for awhile, your doctor may suggest you go to a spinal clinic to have a facet joint block.

How effective is the facet joint block?

The facet joint block is the injection of a steroid injection into the facet joint. Some people get relief for a few weeks, others a few months, and still others like me that has had great success with the facet joint block. A facet joint block is usually done with the help of a fluoroscope, to help direct the needle to the exact spot to alleviate the nerve pain. You are usually put under conscious sedation through an IV infusion. I had a series of, what my orthopedic doctor called, nerve blocks. My nerve blocks were done as an outpatient at our local hospital. Once the block was completed each time I had to stay still for 30 minutes until I was allowed to get up and go home. The nerve blocks that I had over 15 years ago have helped me tremendously. I still do get back pain, but not so much pain that I can't walk or take care of my personal needs. Prior to ever having the nerve blocks I could not even dress myself. I had to have help with almost every activity of daily living. I rarely go to the doctor anymore for back pain. Yes, I still do have aches and pains. I still have numbness that goes down my leg and in the back of my knee, but for the most part I can tolerate it.



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Sam Montana
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Posted on Apr 20, 2009
Harriet Steinberg
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Posted on Apr 20, 2009