Facet Joint Injections for Pain Management
What is a facet joint injection?
Facet joint injections are used for treating back pain and to help determine whether the facet joint is a source of the pain being experienced.
Facet joint injections (also referred to as facet blocks) consist of injections of local anesthetics and steroids into the facet joint of the spine. Or simply, injections used to alleviate the symptoms of facet joint syndrome.
Causes of facet joint pain
Since the syndrome involves immense back pain due to facet joints, the causes vary a lot. Some of these include:
- Degenerative diseases of the spine
Symptoms of painful facet joints in the lumbar spine (Lumbar Facet Syndrome) include lower back pain and pain in the buttocks, thighs, groin, and hips.
Symptoms of cervical facet syndrome which involves painful facet joints in the cervical spine include shoulder pain, neck pain, upper back pain, and headaches. Other conditions for this may be a dipsogenic pain, Sacroiliac Joint (SI Joint) pain, and Myofascial Pain.
The procedure typically takes 15–20 minutes, and uses a local anesthetic. With the help of modern X-ray technology, multiple x-ray snapshots are taken during the procedure to ensure that the needle and injected agents are being directed to the correct location. After the procedure, it can take up to two weeks to get relief from the symptoms. Relief varies by patient and can last up to 14 months.
Preparation for the injection
Following conditions must be followed by an individual going through the treatment:
- One should remain empty stomach for 8 hours before the scheduled procedure.
- One must have someone with them in case sedation is required.
- It is essential to take a sip of water before the procedure if the said individual is taking medications for high blood pressure or heart disease.
- The procedure should be discussed with your respective doctors if a blood thinner is being consumed.
Expectation after the injection
After your anesthesia wears off, you will probably experience some mild discomfort where the needles have touched however it is expected to diminish within 3 to 5 days depending upon the patient. Diabetic patients should check their sugar thoroughly as high sugar is expected. Moreover, a patient should rest after the procedure and avoid strenuous activities.
Risks and complications
The joint injections are completely safe, and complications are extremely rare. Mild complications may occur however they are completely normal. These include:
- Facial Flushing