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An injection into the facet joint of the spine can greatly reduce the inflammation and irritation, giving the patient relief from chronic pain.
Patients who suffer lower back pain could benefit from a facet injection. The facet injection can be in the cervical, lumbar or thoracic facet joint, and contains a local anesthetic and a steroid medication. The anesthetic blocks the pain, while the steroid reduces inflammation.
The goal of a facet joint injection is to provide pain relief, but may also be used to help your health care provider locate the cause of your pain. This is achieved by placing the numbing medication into the facet joint, then seeing how much pain relief the patient experiences. This helps the health care provider to determine which facet joint is causing the pain.
What is the Facet Joint?
Your back is flexible because of the numerous facet joints it contains. When healthy, these joints move smoothly against each other as you bend and twist. Nerves exit your spinal cord through these joints on their way to other parts of your body. Each joint is lubricated with synovial fluid for additional protection against wear and tear. When your facet joints become swollen and painful due to osteoarthritis, it is called facet joint syndrome. This can result in significant limited mobility and pain that can be difficult to treat.
How is a Facet Injection Performed?
A facet injection is generally considered a straightforward process. Fluoroscopy is used to target the correct area for needle placement. An injection of contrast dye will determine whether correct placement of the needle has occurred, then a small amount of anesthesia, such as lidocaine, will slowly be injected, followed by the steroid medication.
A facet joint injection generally takes between 15 and 30 minutes. For some, pain relief occurs within a few hours of the injection, while for others, pain relief may be more elusive. Some patients report feeling a strange feeling or a weakness in their back or neck area following the facet joint injection, however this feeling generally wears off within a few hours.
What Happens in the Week Following the Facet Injection?
Many patients notice a slight increase in pain which may last for hours or days following the facet injection, after the Lidocaine wears off and before the steroid medication kicks in. Applying cold packs to the area can help provide pain relief following a facet injection. Most patients are able to return to their normal life a day or so after the facet injection. If you have severe lower back pain and nothing has worked to relieve the pain, you might consider a facet injection at Seattle Pain.
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At Seattle Pain, we can relieve your back pain and improve your quality of life. We believe in treating the whole patient – and not just the illness or injury. You do not have to live in pain. Call us today.