THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NERVE BLOCK AND FACET JOINT INJECTIONS…

As my readers will have read before I had great success with lumber facet joint injections for low back pain. I have never had facet joints injections in my cervical spine but nor have I had a nerve block in my lumber spine so it’s interesting to find out the difference between them both.

The cost is definitely different for these two injections with the facet joint ones coming out a lot more expensive.

To explain the difference with these two types of injections I will start with a facet joint injection which is a type of steroid injection that is administered to a very specific set of joints. Steroid injections directly into these joints of concern can help relieve both inflammation and pain in the neck or back. Several injections to different facet joints may be needed depending on the site of pain.

As explained by the Spine Institute of North America a nerve block injection can be done anywhere along the spine. This particular injection targets the sympathetic nervous system and helps to reduce inflammation in nerves that branch from the spinal cord and the ganglia that is present at a particular location. Nerve blocks are a form of pain management as the substance that is injected numbs the nerves and helps to block pain signals. This one can consist of a local anesthetics, steroid and lidocaine (a numbing agent).

In a facet injection procedure, a physician uses fluoroscopy (live X-ray) to guide the needle into the facet joint capsule to inject lidocaine (a numbing agent) and/or a steroid (an anti-inflammatory medication). If the patient’s pain goes away after the injection, it can be inferred that the pain generator is the specific facet joint capsule that has just been injected.

A nerve block injection is also done using Fluoroscopy (live X-ray) to ensure the medication is delivered to the correct location. If the patient’s pain goes away after the injection, it can be inferred that the back pain generator is the specific nerve root that has just been injected.

So, basically both injections administer similar drugs and both are done using live X-ray but they are put into different parts of the spine. Why they vary so much in price is something I cannot seem to find out about except that you seem to need more than one facet joint injection at each session. Let’s hope that nerve block injections funding doesn’t change to a postcode lottery like the facet joint ones have done.

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