Treatment After A Lumber Facet Joint Block Has Been Undertaken

Treatment After A Lumbar Facet Joint Block Has Been Undertaken

The term ‘lumbar facet joint block’ can seem quite frightening, but in fact it is a very safe procedure that is undertaken to significantly reduce back pain that patients are experiencing. The procedure can also help patients regain a little bit more movement within the lower back area, so it can be carried out for either of these two reasons.

The facet joints, of which we each have some 25 pairs, may not be a well-recognised part of the anatomy, but they are very important. They actually give the spine stability and help with lower back movement, so they need to function effectively if we are to have a stable spine and good movement in the lower back.

The procedure is often recommended where there has been some kind of injury or trauma or the patient has arthritis.

The Procedure Itself

Although it is a surgically invasive procedure, it is not a full ‘operation’, it is simply a procedure involving an injection being administered to the lumbar facet joint, or an injection within the immediate vicinity of the nerves which link to that joint. Patients are given a local anaesthetic to ensure that when the procedure is carried out, they do not move.

In order to have the procedure carried out, patients need to lie down on an x-ray table. As part of the procedure, the joints to be injected are x-rayed, so that they can be clearly identifiable to ensure the needle is inserted in the exact spot where it is required.

The Injection

The injection is a mixture of local anaesthetic and steroids. The injection is not painful, but you may well experience an amount of discomfort. This may not be a bad thing, because it indicates that the injection has reached the source of the problem and is serving its purpose. The discomfort wears off after a period but painkillers will be given if it is significant.

Treatment After The Procedure

Treatment after the procedure is a combination of monitoring and care by the professionals involved, as well as the patient helping to ensure the procedure is successful: a dual team approach!

In the initial period after the procedure, patients will be monitored to ensure that they can mobilise. This can be difficult initially, as co-ordination can sometimes be adversely affected, to varying degrees.

Upon discharge, patients must not take any alcohol for 24 hours, nor should they drive or operate any kind of machinery; including any household machinery such as a cooker.

One way in which patients can really help assess the success of this procedure, is to keep an accurate diary of their pain levels in the first two or three months after the procedure was undertaken. Use of such a diary helps your consultant be able to read about your progress and it is in effect, much more reliable than simply trying to remember without the help of a daily log of what level of pain was experienced. It can really present the most accurate record of your pain levels and significantly help your consultant to treat you as effectively as possible.

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