During this procedure, a local anesthetic (numbing medicine) is injected near the medial branch nerve. This stops the transmission of pain signals from the facet joint. If your pain is reduced and you are able to move normally, then the doctor will know which facet joints have been causing your pain. An IV may be inserted to administer intravenous medication(s) to help you relax. A local anesthetic will be used to numb your skin. Fluoroscopy, a type of x-ray, will be used to ensure the safe and proper position of the needle. Once your physician is sure the needle is correctly placed, the medicine will be injected.
You will be monitored for up to 30 minutes after the injection. Before you leave, you will be given discharge instructions. Keeping track of your pain helps the doctor know what the next steps will be. You may want to check for pain by moving in ways that hurt before the injection, but do not overdo it. You may feel immediate pain relief and numbness for a brief period of time after the injection. This means the medication has reached the right spot.
You should be able to return to work the day after the injection but always check with your doctor.
How long you can expect pain relief depends on how many areas are injured and the amount of inflammation. If your pain goes away for a short time, but then returns, you may be a candidate for radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to the medial branch nerve. This procedure provides a more permanent disruption of pain signals.
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