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Facet Joint Arthritis Pain

Facet joint blocks are used to treat arthritis pain originating from these small joints at each level of the spine

The facet joints are small joints located on both sides at each level of the spine. They provide stability in order for the vertebra to move and help prevent the vertebrae from sliding forward or backward too far. Patients with neck or back pain without much leg pain may be suffering from arthritis related to these joints. Once it has been determined that the facet joints are the cause of your pain, the nerves that supply sensation to the joints may be treated to help give patients long term relief of pain. 

Radiofrequency neurolysis, or ablation, is a procedure commonly used to provide long term relief of neck, back, and knee pain related to arthritis. The average relief is around 11-12 months when performed on properly selected patients.

The procedure is done under sedation in our in-office procedure suite.  After sterile prep and drape, the area is numbed with local anesthesia, and special needles are placed alongside the nerves to be treated using an X-ray as a guide.  Once in place, the nerves are tested to assure proper placement of the needles, the nerves are then numbed with a local anesthetic and then treated.  The treatment consists of heat applied to the tip of the needles to “cauterize,” or ablate, the nerve so it no longer transmits pain signals.  Since the nerves are not cut, they will heal themselves over time.  When the pain returns, the procedure may be repeated.