The spine is designed to bend and turn. Along with the intervertebral discs, facet joints (also referred to as Z joints or zygapophyseal joints) enable the spine to bend and twist. Each vertebra has two sets of facet joints. One set of facet joints is located at the top and a corresponding set is at the bottom.
Facets joint are small joints a little larger than the size of your thumbnails located in pairs on the back of your spine. They provide stability and guide motion in your back. If the joints become painful they may cause pain in your neck, shoulder, low back, abdomen, buttocks, groin or legs. The pattern and location of pain helps to determine the likely facet joints involved.
Working like a hinge, the articulating surfaces of each facet joint are coated with smooth cartilage allowing friction free movement. Although the facet joint bones fit snugly together, there is a lubrication system. The lubricating ‘oil’ is called synovial fluid and resembles uncooked egg whites. This fluid also nourishes the cartilage tissues. A block that is performed to confirm that a facet joint is the source of pain and decrease pain and inflammation in a facet joint or joints.
Just as imaging studies demonstrate typical patterns of facet joint degeneration, patients with facetogenic pain often have a typical history and physical examination suggestive of this disease. This is sometimes referred to as “Facet Syndrome”. The exact definition and what constitutes the ‘Facet Syndrome’ is somewhat controversial, but includes the following: Cervical>
Immediately after the procedure, you will get up and walk and try to imitate something that would normally bring about your usual pain. You will then report the percentage of pain relief and record the relief you experience during the next week. You should not drive the day of the procedure. Your legs may feel weak or numb for a few hours.