Facet Injection FAQs from a Colorado Pain Clinic

FAQs on Facet Injections at a Northern Colorado Pain Center

Facet injections provide semi-permanent relief to men and women experiencing chronic neck and back pain. With a minimally invasive procedure, it reduces chronic failed back paininflammation and irritation that spike painful conditions linked to facet joint arthritis, injury, and degeneration.  

What are Facet Injections?

A facet injection puts anti-inflammatory steroid into bony projections connecting one vertebra with another. Cartilage in these thumb-sized facet joints spread throughout the edge of the spine become inflamed and swollen because of trauma, surgery, injury, osteoarthritis, degeneration, or disruptions.

Patients with inflamed cervical facet joints suffer from neck pain that radiates to shoulder and arm. If facet joints in the lumbar spine get inflamed, pain starts in the back and gradually spreads to things and restricts bending and movements.

Facet injections help patients get rid of the swelling and inflammation and make these joints free from agonizing symptoms. This assures relief from pain and improves the level of activity and mobility involving facet joints.

When Patients Require Facet Injections? What Conditions Are Treated Through Facet Injections? 

Neck, shoulder, back, and thigh pain unresponsive to oral medication or conservative treatments may be addressed with facet injections. The procedure is also beneficial for

  • Spinal stenosis caused by contraction of the spinal canalFacet Joint Injection Use this
  • Spondylolysis leading to squeezing of nerve roots
  • Sciatica pain in the buttock and upper legs
  • Pain linked to lumbar nerve root disruption
  • Herniated disc swelling and pain
  • Myofascial pain
  • Joint inflammations associated with arthritis
  • Lumbar facet syndrome
  • Sacroiliac joint pain
  • Cervical facet syndrome
  • Postoperative pain
  • Discogenic pain
  • Cluster headaches
  • Facet join pain associated with whiplash injuries

How Is Facet Injections Performed?

Facet joint injections are simple and involve hassle-free procedure. Most of the patients tolerate the injections with only numbing of skin and soft tissues surrounding the targeted joint. Intravenous sedation is rarely administered and only meant to make a patient relax during the process.

Real-time x-ray imaging obtained through fluoroscopy helps accurately determine the exact point of injection and the needle is inserted into the area. As soon as the injection is administered, the patient is kept under observation for about 30 minutes.

What Are Benefits of Facet Injections?

  • Facet injections provide an effective yet non-invasive solution for failed treatments involving different therapies, conservative pain management, and pain-killer pills
  • It provides an alternative to surgery that has limitations for multiple facet injuries or arthritis pain.
  • The injections can check severe end-stage arthritis.
  • Surgical fusion of facet joints actually pushes the stress up or down and constrains the mobility while facet injections have no such risk.

What Is Injected Through Facet Injections?

A facet joint injection contains a numbing agent, such as lidocaine and bupivacaine, and cortisone, steroid. The anesthetic works immediately and disrupt the pain signals. The steroid starts showing its effects after a few days in form of cutting down irritation and inflammation.

How Long Does It Take?

The entire procedure takes from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the level of joints to be treated.

Do I Need Rest After Facet Injections?

Yes, you can go home as soon as the virtually painless procedure is over and doctors do not notice any complication in the first 30 minutes. You can join your work after a day’s rest. Avoid putting stress on the facet joints treated for a few days and build up your activity level gradually.

How Many Facet Injections Should I Have?

The real effect of the facet injection becomes visible in a week and it may go up to a few months. You may choose to repeat it if you find it beneficial for long term pain relief.

What Are The Side Effects of Facet Injections?

Injection site soreness is the most common side effects one experiences after a facet injection. However, there are no risks of any major complication. It is safe and minimal invasive.

There may be some rare risks, including bleeding, needle misplacement, infection, nerve damage, allergy, or epidural block if your doctors fail to take adequate precaution.

The steroid medication may increase blood sugar level, create ulcers, or alter the sleeping pattern. But it can also be tackled in consultation with your doctor.

How Well Does Facet Injections Work? What Are The Benefits of Facet Injections?

  • A Pain Physician report in 2007 cited a research study to highlight beneficial effects of injections for lumbar facet joint pain.
  • Another 2007 study published in the Spine journal found the procedure highly accurate in diagnosis and treatment of facet joint pain affecting the back and neck.
  • Acta Orthopaedica Belgica journal has also reported similar findings. Researchers recorded 68% success in pain relief over a six-month period.

 

References

Emedicine, Medscape

Manchikanti L et al. Evaluation of lumbar facet joint nerve blocks in the management of chronic low back pain: preliminary report of a randomized, double-blind controlled trial: clinical trial;  Pain Physician. 2007 May;10(3):425-40

Friedly J, Chan L, Deyo R; Increases in lumbosacral injections in the Medicare population: 1994 to 2001 Spine. 2007 Jul 15;32(16):1754-60

Anand S, Butt MS. Patients’ response to facet joint injection. Acta Orthop Belg. 2007 Apr;73(2):230-3 PMID: 17515236

Bani A, Spetzger U, Gilsbach JM. Indications for and Benefits of Lumbar Facet Joint Block. Neurosurg Focus 13(2), 2002.