Pain relief with facet joint injections

July 9, 2019

facet joint injections Have you ever heard of a facet joint, and did you know you have them in your spine? Facet joints are small joints along your spine responsible for flexibility and stability. When your facet joints are healthy, you are able to move easily without restriction or pain. But when these joints become inflamed or experience loss of cartilage due to arthritis, injury, pressure, or aging, pain is often a result. 

The good news is that we have a procedure called facet joint injections that can often be very helpful to those experiencing these issues.

Why we perform facet joint injections & procedure details

The primary goal of facet joint injections is to reduce pain. We do this by injecting a mix of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medication directly into the facet joint. If the injection is successful, patients should experience pain reduction and increased mobility.

A secondary benefit of facet joint injections is diagnostic eliminations. For those who do not experience a decrease in joint pain after the injections, the problem is likely stemming from somewhere else. In these cases, further diagnostic tests are needed.

Facet joint injections are minimally invasive, and the procedure typically takes 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the number of injections needed. 

Here are the 5 steps of performing facet joint injections:

  1. Patients lay face-down on the procedure table.
  2. We cleanse the injection site and treat with a numbing agent.
  3. We use fluoroscopy, or X-ray imaging, to help guide us as we place the needle into the facet joint.
  4. We inject contrast dye into the joint to ensure placement is correct and that the medication stays contained.
  5. We inject the anesthetic mixture into the facet joint.

Patients may feel some numbness or weakness in their back immediately following the procedure, and we often ask patients to rest in our office for a few minutes. This is typically all that is required for recovery time.

We will probably ask you to avoid doing any strenuous activities for the rest of the day. In order to obtain the most accurate diagnostic information, we will also want you to limit pain medicine within the first four to six hours after your injection. 

During this time, we also want patients to really utilize their pain journal. We will be very interested in having information about your levels of pain and pain relief during the first several hours after the procedure and over the next several days. This can be a huge help in letting us know what the injection results are and what next steps may be needed. 

Once we are able to establish clear results, we may refer patients for physical therapy and/or returning to regular exercise and activities in moderation, which can help greatly for those patients who do have reduced pain.

Southside Pain Specialists is your one-stop shop for pain management

With a multitude of pain relief options tailored to your specific needs, Southside Pain Specialists follow the standards of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, The American Board of Pain Medicine and the International Spinal Injection Society and works hard to provide patients comprehensive, caring pain relief when they need it most. Check out our website or contact us today at 205.332.3155 to learn more.