The term facet injection is self explanatory, as this is an injection which is injected into the facet joints. The joints make up the spine’s bony framework and they are the small bones which connect one vertebra to another. There are two at each level, one on each side and they are about the size of a thumbnail.
The facet joints undergo a lot of stress due to chronic or acute conditions and as a result they become inflamed and arthritic. Facet injections contain an anti-inflammatory steroid which is used to help relieve the inflammation and pain.
5 Things You Should Know about Facet Injections
1. Facet injections are used to achieve two medical goals:
- Pain Relief: The injections contain numbing medication which is injected into the affected facet joint. This reduces the inflammation and the pain as well since pain isnormally as a result of the inflammation.
- Diagnosis: Facet injections are also used to achieve diagnostic goals. The numbing medicine is used to identify the source of the pain by injecting it into various facet joints. If pain relief is achieved upon injection, then the injected joint would be identified as the source of the pain.
2. The injections are not painful: Facet injections are tolerable. This is because Chicago pain management doctors inject a local anesthetic which helps numb the skin.
Most patients will therefore not describe the procedure as painful. However, you will feel some pressure on the injected site. While some patients may request mild sedation, many tolerate this injection without sedation.
3. Facet joint injections are an outpatient procedure: This is a relatively straightforward procedure and is normally performed in an outpatient clinic. The injection takes only a few minutes, but you will be given about an hour after the procedure to relax in the recovery room.
Due to the fact that most patients undergo slight sedation, you will need to organize a ride back home. It is advised that you rest through the day and you resume working a day after the injection.
4. The injection is performed through fluoroscopy: Fluoroscopy involves the use of x-ray to guide the needle to the targeted site. A contrast dye is first injected on the site to confirm the needle’s correct placement before injecting the anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medication on the facet joint.
5. Facet injections come with minimum risks: The procedure is generally safe and there are very few side effects many of which are temporary. The needle does not go into the spinal cord area.
The major risks would be to patients who could be allergic to the medications injected, patients with infections or those who are on blood thinning medications. Your pain management doctor in Chicago will talk you through the risks and identify if you are a good candidate for the injection.
Why Would You Need Facet Injections?
As mentioned, facet injections are used for diagnosis and pain relief therapy. These injections could therefore work to help the doctor identify the best treatment for your condition or give you pain relief.
Patients who are asked to undergo facet injections tend to suffer from back pain which illuminates through the lumbar or cervical regions. The pain could therefore be anywhere from the neck to the lower back and buttocks.
Premier Pain & Spine has expert Chicago pain management doctors who perform these procedures as well as over 40 other procedures for pain relief. There are seven locations throughout the Greater Chicago area!