Facet Joint Injections For Back Pain
Facet joint injections, also known as facet block injections, serve two main purposes. The first is to diagnose facet joint pain, and the second is to treat this kind of pain. The procedure can be done quickly and easily, right here in the office, and it can enable you to give your doctor instant feedback so that an accurate diagnosis can be made.
What are facet joints?
These are the small joints located on either side of your vertebrae, in the back of the spine. They help to stabilize the spine and facilitate small twisting and bending movements.
The joints themselves are coated in cartilage, and the entire joint is surrounded by a fluid-filled capsule. The cartilage and the synovial fluid together lubricate the joint, and reduce friction during movement.
Facet Joint Pain
Many conditions can damage these joints. When the cartilage is damaged by injury or disease, this causes the bony tissue of the joints to rub together, causing chronic back or neck pain.
A facet joint injection can treat pain caused by:
- Pain of cervical facet joint
- Cervical strain
- Bulging of cervical intervertebral disc
- Cervical spondylosis
- Lumbar degenerative disc disease
- Low back pain
- Lumbar stenosis
- Lumbar foraminal stenosis
- Bulging of the lumbar intervertebral disc
- Lumbar spondylosis
How Does a Facet Joint Injection Work?
The injection is performed in the office as an outpatient procedure. First, the doctor identifies which facet joint may be causing the problem. Then, two injections will be administered. This is usually done under X-ray guidance using a procedure called fluoroscopy.
The first injection is simply a local anesthetic, which will be delivered into the skin right above the target joint. The next injection will contain high-contrast dye, more local anesthetic, and a corticosteroid. This injection will be inserted into the facet joint itself.
- The high-contrast dye helps the physician to confirm that the tip of the needle is in the correct place.
- The local anesthetic will provide rapid pain relief, so that you can tell the doctor if that joint was indeed the cause of your pain.
- The corticosteroid acts as an anti-inflammatory to provide long-lasting pain relief.
The whole procedure takes 20-30 minutes, and you can go home right after your appointment. You may receive additional injections, but typically doctors recommend three or fewer within a 6-month timeframe.
Facet Joint Injection Side Effects
You may feel some discomfort from the injections, but typically the local anesthetic will keep you comfortable during the procedure.
Side effects are rare, but some commonly-reported effects of steroids include:
- Hot flashes
- Water retention
- Weight gain
- Changes in appetite
In the first day or two after your injection, you may experience some soreness in the neck or back. This is a common result of the anesthetic wearing off, before the anti-inflammatory effects have kicked in. You should go easy during this time, and expect greater pain relief on the second or third day.
Call Nuvo Spine for Face Joint Injections
If you’re suffering from chronic back or neck pain due to disease or injury, call us today. Our board-certified, award-winning physician is an expert in pain diagnostics and pain management, utilizing minimally-invasive techniques. Our team is specially qualified to provide you with comfort and high quality care.