Facet Mediated Pain & the ODG in AZ Workers’ Compensation
By Founding Partner/Attorney Chad Snow
Snow, Carpio & Weekley
More and more, spine specialists are pointing to the facet joints as possible pain generators in low back injuries. The facet joints are the joints in your spine that make your back flexible and able to bend and twist. Like any other joint in the body, they are susceptible to injury.
The problem with diagnosing facet joint injury and pain is that there is no diagnostic test that specifically without doubt demonstrates a facet injury. So doctors are left to other methods of diagnosis such as the physical examination and subjective complaints of the patient. A physical exam where pain is greater in lumbar spine flexion and rotation than extension can be indicative of an injury to the facet joints. An additional diagnostic tool that physicians can use for facet pain is a medial branch block. This is where the nerve that provides feeling to the joint is blocked with an anesthetic. If this gives temporary pain relief greater than 70%, the facet joint can be pointed to as the pain generator.
A growing list of pain management doctors treat facet mediated pain with a procedure called a radio frequency ablation, which “burns” the nerves that innervate the facet joint. This procedure can provide relief for about 18-24 months until it needs to be repeated. The Official Disability Guidelines, which are evidence based guidelines for chronic pain used at the Industrial Commission, are generally supportive of this method of diagnosis and treatment of facet joint injury and pain.
For more information on Workers’ Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website atwww.workinjuryaz.com. We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.