Facet joint injection is a diagnostic procedure done to ascertain that the pain is the direct result of facet syndrome. The procedure relies on the use of fluoroscopic guidance (X-ray) to aid in accurately pinpointing the precise joint(s). Facet joints help provide stability and flexibility to the spine and are located between each vertebra. Once the joints experience inflammation and become irritated, the condition becomes referred to as facet syndrome.
The actual injection itself is a combination of two substances, local anesthetics for numbness and pain relief as well as a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory substance that helps to stem the inflammation. If the procedure is successful, it will confirm the fact that the root of the pain is indeed from the facet joints. This is possible due to the use of local anesthetics which help to provide the appropriate feedback. The procedure starts off with the application of a local anesthetic, which helps to make the procedure tolerable for the patient, followed by the insertion of a spinal-like needle into the facet joint itself. All this is done f course with the assistance of fluoroscopic guidance.
Typically, facet joint injections require no more than 20 to 30 minutes to perform. Following the procedure, the patient is observed for approximately 45 minutes for any potential side-effects from the procedure. Normally, facet joint injections can be performed up to 3 times during the span of a 6 month period.
Facet joint injections are common procedures that have been performed for a long time by many professionals and are very safe in nature. Following the completion of the procedure, patients are prone to experiencing soreness around the back or neck areas for about 1 to 2 days. Patients are advised to maintain an easy schedule on the day of the procedure but can resume their normal activities the following day. Patients can also expect to feel the benefits of the procedure sometime around the second and third day subsequent to the procedure.