A facet injection is the administration of pain-relieving medication into the facet joints. The facet joint allows the various vertebra of the spine to move against each other.
This treatment relieves pain coming from inflammation or arthritis of the facet joints located outside the spinal cord.
Commonly Asked Questions About Facet Injections:
A needle is inserted into the facet joints and injects a mixture of local anesthetic and a steroid. Typically, no more than three or at most four injections are administered per visit.
Patients with arthritis or other chronic back or neck pain will benefit from the injection since it reduces inflammation and pain of the facets. The effect of the injection can last several days to several months. Facet injections also act as a diagnostic test by confirming the source of the pain.
Like any procedure, some pain may result as the needle is inserted through the skin and deeper tissues, but a local anesthetic minimizes that. Soreness from the needle and steroid reaction may continue for a few days after the anesthetic wears off, but it begins alleviating after that.
Besides some pain, other possible side effects or risks may include infection, bleeding, worsening of pain, spinal block, or epidural block (EXCEEDINGLY RARE). Any other risks are results of a reaction to the steroid and could include weight gain, increase in blood sugar (mostly for diabetics), water retention, or suppression of the body’s own natural production of cortisone, but all of these are very uncommon.
Patients may go to work the next day, assuming there are no complications. The treatment is followed up with physical therapy with an emphasis on a home exercise program. If the injections confirm the facets to be the source of pain, then they are most often followed by a facet Radiofrequency Ablation.