What Are Facet Joint Injections?Facet joint injections are a minimally invasive non-surgical treatment that is used as treatment for many different causes of neck and back pain. It works by reducing the inflammation and irritation in the facet joints of the spine that is causing you pain.
How Are Facet Joint Injections Performed?The facet joint of the spine is a moveable connection that connects one vertebra (bone of the spine) to another. This injection includes both a long-lasting steroid and an anesthetic (lidocaine or bupivacaine). The steroid reduces the inflammation and irritation and the anesthetic works to numb the pain. The combination medicine then spreads to other levels and portions of the spine, reducing inflammation and irritation. The entire procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes.
Facet joint injections and the epidural steroid injections (ESI) are very similar and differ in the location that they inject the medicine. In an ESI, the medication is injected into the epidural space whereas in the facet injections, it is injected directly into the joint.
The most important and greatest success achieved with the use of facet joint injections is the rapid relief of symptoms that allows patients to experience enough relief to become active again. With this they regain the ability to resume their normal daily activities that was not achieved with oral medications and physical therapy.
Another benefit to the use of facet joint injections is that it can be used as a diagnostic test to see if the pain is actually coming from the facet joints. If your pain disappears with the injection then it is clear that the pain is originating from the joint, and it has been shown that therapeutic lumbar facet joint nerve blocks with local anesthetic, with or without steroids, may be effective in the treatment of chronic low back pain of facet joint origin. However, if your pain is unresponsive then this gives your physician information that can help him in diagnosing your condition.
A large evidence-based practice guideline for the management of chronic spinal pain with interventional techniques was developed by the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians provide recommendations to clinicians and patients in the United States. In regards to the facet joint injections they states that the accuracy of facet joint nerve blocks is strong in the diagnosis of lumbar and cervical facet joint pain.
With a minimal amount of risks, facet joint injections are considered an appropriate non surgical treatment for many patients who suffer from back pain. The associated risks with this procedure involve misplacement of the needle, either advancing the needle too deeply or positioning it incorrectly. The outcome of the incorrect positioning of the needle can potentially cause nerve damage, bleeding, infection, and a headache following the injection.
As with any medication taken, there are always risks and potential side effects that may occur. The other risks of the facet injections may be directly caused by the actual medication given, however, the risk of developing these side effects are much higher in a person taking oral corticosteroids. Some of the potential side effects of the corticosteroid may include elevated blood sugars, weight gain, arthritis, stomach ulcers, and transient decrease in the immune system. All patients before receiving a facet injection should be assessed by their physician about risk assessment for the procedure.
Conditions Related to Facet Joint InjectionsThe syndromes most commonly requiring facet injections include spinal stenosis, herniated discs, sciatica, and low back pain.
ConclusionThe most important and greatest success achieved with the use of facet joint injections is the rapid relief of symptoms that allows patients to experience enough relief to become active again. With this they regain the ability to resume their normal daily activities that was not achieved with oral medications and physical therapy.