Facet Joint Injections

Facet Joint Injections

What is a Facet Joint Injection?

Facet joints are small joints in the spine. Inflammation of this area or destruction of the joints from wear and tear can cause pain and restricted movement, and in such situations facet joint injections are performed. Steroids are used in facet joint injections as they are powerful anti-inflammatory agents.

Facet joint injections are indicated in patients who have arthritis or degenerative disease that has affected these joints.

How is it Performed?

The test is straightforward and is performed under local anaesthesia (and mild sedation if required). It is a day case procedure, and patients can go home the same day of the procedure.

Before the procedure, the patient's consent is obtained and is laid down in a face-down position. The facet joint is visualized using an x-ray machine and local anaesthetic is administered into the skin to numb it. Following this, a larger needle that contains a local anaesthetic agent mixed with steroids is injected into the facet joint under x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy). Multiple joints may be injected in the same sitting.

After the injections, patients are observed for a short while and discharged home. A small bandage may be applied at the injection sites if needed.

Benefits

Patients experience an immediate relief of symptoms primarily due to the local anaesthetic. The steroid medication kicks in a bit later, and can last a few weeks to months. Patient notice an improvement in their overall mobility fairly quickly.

Risks and Side Effects

Patients may experience short lived discomfort at the site of injections. Steroids may cause mild flushing, nausea or even abdominal pain. While uncommon, long term use of steroids can cause weight gain and brittle bones.

Patients may need repeat joint injections in the future.


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Facet Joint Injections

Facet Joint Injections

Can Facet Injections Help With Pain Relief?

Facet joint pain arises from degenerative changes within the facet joint. These changes may cause inflammation. The mainstay of treatment is anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care and activity modification. If these treatments fail to provide adequate pain relief, injections may be considered.

Facet injections may also be used as a diagnostic evaluation. If the pain decreases significantly after the injection, this helps to verify the joint as a pain generator. This can be helpful in planning future treatment. These injections can provide relief from pain for days or even years or, in some cases, permanently.

How Do You Treat Facet Joint Pain?

Facet injections are primarily used to manage facet joint pain (or facet syndrome) which is a type of arthritis located along the spine (osteoarthritis.) The deterioration of the facet joints in the spine can cause several types of pain.

Facet joint degeneration happens when the cartilage between the two joints is gone and bone begins to rub against bone. Serious pain can manifest in the neck, upper back or lower back. Depending on where the arthritis is, it may be harder for the sufferer to move their neck, back or hips – meaning walking, sitting or looking around can be much more difficult.

Treatments for facet joint osteoarthritis can help reduce the pain and keep it at a manageable level.

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If you are suffering from low-back pain, neck pain, herniated disc, sciatica, pinched nerve and have been researching minimally invasive spine surgery as well as laser spine surgery, schedule an appointment to speak to Dr. T and Microspine Team today.