What are facet Joints?
The facet joints are small joints in the back of the spine that form connections between each vertebra. If these joints are blocked or numbed, they will not be able to transfer the painful sensation to the brain. Therefore, the facet joint injection procedure is competed to assist with pain relief in the facet joints.
How is the procedure performed?
The patient lies on his/her stomach. The skin of the back or neck is cleansed with antiseptic solution and a local anesthetic ins inject to numb the area. A small needle is then guided using an X-ray to the targeted facet joints which are then numbed. The doctor may inject a small amount of X-ray contrast to ensure correct needle placement. An anesthetic and steroid is then injected into the joint. The injection takes about 15 minutes to complete.
Will the Facet Joint Injection hurt?
There is some discomfort with needle insertion which is minimized by numbing the skin over the joint with a local anesthetic. You may elect to have a small amount of sedating medication to help with discomfort and to help you relax. If you elect to receive sedation, you may not eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure. and you must bring someone with you to stay with you during the procedure and drive you home.
How long does the effect last?
The effect might last a few hours to a few weeks or much longer. Pain relief in the first couple of hours after the injection is the most important as this tells lets the doctor know the diagnosis of facet joint mediated pain is correct. If the symptoms do return, there are other options available for extended pain relive, such as radiofrequency.
What is the next step after the injection?
Patients will be proved with a a pain log to complete after the procedure. This will help to measure the individual response to the injection and to determine the next appropriate plan of care.
What are the risks and side effects?
Serious side effects and complications are rare. The most common problem after the injection is having pain near the injection site for a few days. The other complications are infection, bleeding and nerve injury. These complication are minimized by stopping blood thinners, using sterile technique, and fluoroscopy for X-ray needle guidance.