Facet Joint Injections
Facet Joint Injections
Information for Patients
The bones in the spine are linked together by small joints called facet joints. Like other joints, these are prone to wear and can become inflamed and painful. Inflamed facet joints can cause back and leg pain.
By injecting an anaesthetic and steroid solution into and around the inflamed joints, it is often possible to reduce facet joint pain for several months.
What will happen to me before the procedure?
When you arrive for your facet joint injections you will be shown into to a changing room and change into a theatre
gown. Your blood pressure will be taken by a nurse, in day surgery.
What will happen to me during my procedure?
A nurse will take you from the day surgery unit into the theatre where the procedure will be done.
Once in theatre, the procedure will be explained to you and you will be given the opportunity to ask any questions.
You will then be asked to sign a consent form.
You will be asked to lie on your stomach.
An x-ray machine is used to help locate the joints where the pain is coming from.
The doctor/practitioner will feel around your back and locate the correct areas to inject and sometimes mark them.
Following this they will inject the skin with a local anaesthetic before inserting the needle into the facet joint.
Once the areas have been identified, a small amount of steroid and local anaesthetic solution will be injected into
each facet joint. The injections may cause some discomfort but this will settle quickly.
Does the steroid have any side-effects?
The steroid injection is designed to stay around the joint and should have very little effect on the rest of your body.
However, people who have diabetes may find their symptoms become worse for a few days. Some women may experience facial flushing lasting a few days, and menstruation (periods) can become heavier or irregular for a month or two.
However, this is rare.
You should not have this procedure using x-rays if you are pregnant, due to radiation.
Very occasionally the anaesthetic leaks onto one of the nerves, causing numbness in the legs. This normally wears off after an hour. You may need to stay in the hospital until this resolves.
Summary of possible side effects:
Temporary increase in the pain during the injection or for 24-48 hours afterwards
Diabetics may notice that their blood sugar is raised for a week or so after the procedure
Women may notice menstrual irregularities
Facial flushing about 48hrs after the procedure
These are normally mild and transient. If you become feverish or feel generally unwell, please contact your GP.
Will the pain go away?
Once the local anaesthetic has worn off, your pain may return. The steroid can take up to three to four weeks to have its full effect.
Some people find that they feel a bit bruised after the procedure. This is normal and can be helped by normal pain medication.
It is not advisable to drive home after the procedure and we would ask that a friend or relative would drive you home. Please do not drive for at least 24 hours after your injection.
Following your facet joint injections you should go home and be relatively rested for the next 24 hours. You should take any regular medication you have, and you can take painkillers if necessary. After this time, you can resume normal activity.
Will I be followed up?
You may be followed up with a further clinic appointment, or by telephone. Or alternatively, we may ask you to get in touch with us if the injections do not give sufficient improvement. This will be explained to you at the appointment.
If you have any queries you can contact the MSK secretaries on 01305 762631.
Please download our Facet Joint Injection information sheet to print off here.