What is it?
A facet joint shot injects an anti-inflammatory steroid into the facet joints. These joints, termed as zygapophysial joints, are components of the delicate framework of the spine. The facet joints are small bony projections from a vertebra to meet with similar bony projections, above or below.
Frequently, owing to various chronic and acute conditions, the facet joints become inflamed. The pain generally feels like a dull ache in the lower back facet joints and radiates slightly down the upper thighs and the buttocks.
In some patients, bending backwards or standing upright can make the pain worse. For cervical or neck facet joints, the individual will experience a lot of discomfort and pain in the neck and shoulders. The symptoms may worsen when you look up or turn your head from side to side.
The process is generally performed with the patient lying on his stomach. During the entire procedure, the body’s oxygenation and blood sugar levels are carefully monitored. Moreover, there is a nurse and an x-ray technician right there to aid the doctor.
Before the shot is administered, the medical professional will first clean the region using an antiseptic solution. The procedure involves placing small needles within the joint capsule. Generally, a small needle is inserted in each joint.
Am I a candidate?
All patients who are suffering from acute or chronic back pain can be eligible candidates for receiving facet-joint injections. The pain can be due to any reason; however, the most common reasons of back pain include back injury, osteoarthritis, sciatica or spinal stenosis. Typically, the pain surfaces in the lumbar region, but it can occur at any point in the spine. Depending on the location of the inflammation of the facet join, the pain is commonly felt in the below mentioned areas of the body:
- Neck or shoulders
- Arms or legs
Facet-joint injections are usually prescribed after an anti-inflammatory medication or other conservative methods that have failed to relieve the symptoms. Beware if you are pregnant or suffer from chronic bleeding disorder. Both conditions mean that you are not a good fit for the treatment.
How long does it take?
The injection requires only a few minutes. However, you must take out enough time to discuss all details about the procedure. The entire process involves signing the informed consent and an observation by the recovery nurse.
Following the process, the patient has to rest in the recovery room for around 20 to 30 minutes. He will then be asked to perform a few movements that caused him discomfort and pain.
Some patients fail to receive pain relief, particularly in the first few hours. This depends on whether or not the targeted joints are the actual source of their pain. A patient is not likely to benefit from any relief if the joints or joint being targeted does not cause pain.
The procedure is dubbed a safe method of relieving back pack. There can be a few complications, risks or side effects with the treatment. The most common side effect is temporary pain while the more serious ones include spinal block, bleeding and infection.