Facet joint injections are a non-surgical treatment for spondylosis, a condition that affects the spine. These injections alleviate pain and inflammation caused by the facet joints, the small joints connecting the vertebrae in the spine. Facet joint injections are a minimally invasive procedure that can be done in an outpatient setting, and they are often used when other treatments have failed to provide relief.
What is Spondylosis?
Spondylosis is a degenerative condition that affects the spine. It is caused by the wear and tear that occurs over time and can cause pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility. Spondylosis can affect the entire spine but most commonly affects the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) regions.
Various factors, including aging, injury, and genetics, can cause spondylosis. As we age, the discs in our spine lose water content and become less flexible, which can lead to degeneration. Injuries to the spine, such as herniated discs or fractures, can also contribute to spondylosis. Genetics can also play a role in the development of spondylosis, as certain genes may make a person more susceptible to the condition.
How Facet Joint Injections Work
Facet joint injections deliver medication directly to the facet joints in the spine. The medication used in the injections usually combines a local anesthetic and a steroid. The local anesthetic numbs the area around the facet joint, while the steroid reduces inflammation and provides longer-lasting pain relief.
Facet joint injections are typically done under fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray that allows the doctor to see the exact location of the injection. The patient will lie on their stomach or side, and the doctor will clean the area around the injection site and numb it with a local anesthetic. The doctor will then use the fluoroscope to guide the needle to the facet joint, and the medication will be injected.
Most patients will feel immediate pain relief after the injection, although the local anesthetic will wear off after a few hours. The steroid usually takes a few days to start working, but it can relieve pain for several weeks or even months.
Benefits & Risks of Facet Joint Injections
Facet joint injections have several benefits for patients with spondylosis. They are a non-surgical treatment option that can provide significant pain relief without the risks and recovery time associated with surgery. They are also minimally invasive, meaning they can be done in an outpatient setting and with minimal discomfort.
However, there are also some risks associated with facet joint injections. The most common risk is an infection, although this is rare. Other risks include bleeding, nerve damage, and an allergic reaction to the medication used in the injection. It’s important for patients to discuss the risks and benefits of facet joint injections with their doctor before undergoing the procedure.
Facet Joint Injection Procedure
Before the procedure, the doctor will perform a physical exam and may order imaging tests such as X-rays or an MRI to determine the location of the facet joint that is causing pain. Patients should inform their doctor about any medications they are taking, as some can increase the risk of bleeding during the procedure.
On the day of the procedure, patients should wear loose, comfortable clothing and should not eat or drink anything for several hours beforehand. The procedure usually takes less than an hour, and patients can usually go home the same day.
After the injection, patients may experience some mild discomfort or numbness in the area around the injection site. This is normal and should go away within a few hours. Patients should avoid strenuous activity for several days after the injection and follow their doctor’s instructions for medication and follow-up care.
Follow-up Care After Injections
After the injection, patients should schedule a follow-up appointment with their doctor to assess their pain relief and discuss any further treatment options. The steroid in the injection can relieve pain for several weeks or even months, but the effects are not permanent. Patients may need to undergo additional injections or other treatments to manage their pain in the long term.
It’s also important for patients to follow their doctor’s instructions for pain management and to avoid activities that could aggravate their condition. Physical therapy or other types of rehabilitation may also be recommended to help improve mobility and reduce pain.
Get the Relief You Are Looking For
Facet joint injections are a non-surgical treatment option for patients with spondylosis. They provide significant pain relief without the risks and recovery time associated with surgery. While some risks are associated with the procedure, they are rare and can be minimized with proper precautions. Patients should discuss the risks and benefits of facet joint injections with their doctor to determine if it is the right treatment option.
If you suffer from spondylosis, contact the team at Spine Diagnostics to discuss your treatment options, including facet joint injections. You can manage your pain and regain your mobility with the right treatment. Fill out the form below to get started.
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The article underwent review by Kellie Mahon to assess its accuracy and provide corrections.