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Your doctor has recommended you for either a selective nerve root or a facet block. A facet is a joint, or connection between two of the bones in your back. The block works by injecting a pain-relieving medication at the source of the pain, a facet or a nerve. Franklin Moser, MD, Director of Neuroradiology, heads our team of imaging physicians, nurses and technologists who specialize in these procedures.
Before Arriving for Your Exam
You will not be allowed to drive after the procedure, so you should arrange for someone to help you get home.
We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time.
Please wear comfortable clothing and leave your valuables at home.
A physician specialist in interventional radiology will discuss your procedure with you and answer any questions you might have.
After this discussion, you will be asked to sign a consent form, giving us permission to perform the test.
You must tell the technologist, nurse, or physician of any allergies you may have, and whether you are or might be pregnant.
During Your Exam
You will need to change into a hospital gown.
You will lay on your stomach on an X-ray table, and blood-pressure and blood-oxygen monitors might be placed on you.
Your back will be cleaned, and a local anesthetic will be used to numb an area of skin where the injection will take place.
A fluoroscope (a form of X-ray) will be taken. This will allow the imaging physician to see exactly where the injection needs to be placed.
With the needle properly situated, the physician will inject the pain medication and usually a steroid.
You will be asked if your usual pain has lessened.
If more than one nerve or facet is being injected, this process might be repeated.
The nerve or facet block procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
After Your Exam
You will be asked about any reduction in your pain and whether you can do some motions that would have been painful to you before the block.
You might experience some numbness or tingling in your legs, arms or the surface of your chest. This is common and should go away within a few hours.
Do not do any strenuous activity for 24 hours.
If the site of the injection is painful, you can treat it with ice or a pain medication as prescribed by your physician.
Your back pain might return after the injected pain medication has worn off. The steroid injection takes seven to 10 days to start relieving your pain.