Facet Joint Injection Procedures
Facet Joint Injection
Facet joints are located on both sides of your spine to connect the vertebrae. The joints help guide your spine when you move. Facet joint pain can feel like muscle tension to severe pain.
At times, the cartilage inside the joint may be injured. Other times, only connecting ligaments surrounding the joint are injured.
For lower back (lumbar) facet joints, you may feel muscle tension to severe pain in the low back, radiating across the lower back and slightly down the back of the buttocks and upper thighs. Usually, standing or bending backward worsens the pain.
For neck (cervical) facet joints, you may feel muscle tension to severe pain in the neck, slight radiation across the neck and shoulders, and worsening symptoms with turning the head from side to side or looking up.
In this procedure, an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid is injected into one or more of your lumbar facet joints. Based on the results, the injection(s) can be used to diagnose or treat.
What can I expect during the procedure?
This outpatient procedure takes about an hour. We start by numbing your skin then injecting an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid into one or more lumbar facet joint. Your results help your doctor diagnose and treat the facet causing your pain.
How long is the recovery time?
Soon after the injection, you may notice your pain subside. Many patients notice pain relief within 2 days. We suggest you move easily the first day of the procedure. Most patients return to full activity the next day.
How long does relief last?
This varies with each patient. If the first injection succeeds, but pain returns, your doctor may suggest another injection after a period of time pasts.
What are the risks and side effects of facet joint injections?
The most common side effect is temporary pain at the injection sites. Very rare risks include: infection, bleeding, nerve damage, no pain relief, and accidental puncture of the spinal fluid sack, which may cause headaches and can be treated. The injected steroid may temporarily cause water retention, flushing, sweating, weight gain, increased blood sugar (mainly in diabetics), or heart palpitations for a few days.
Who should not have this injection
You should not have this procedure if you are:
- Allergic to any of the medications to be injected
- On a blood thinning medication (e.g. coumadin, injectable heparin)
- Currently battling an active infection
- On anti platelet drugs (ask your doctor if you can temporarily discontinue use before the procedure)