FACET JOINT INJECTIONS
What are Facet Joint Injections?
Facet joint injections are a medical procedure used to diagnose and alleviate pain and inflammation in the facet joints of the spine. Facet joints, also known as zygapophyseal joints, are small joints between the vertebrae in the spine. These joints play a role in providing stability and allowing for controlled movement in the spine. However, they can become a source of pain due to various factors, including arthritis, injury, or degeneration.
Purpose and Benefits:
Facet joint injections serve both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes:
- Diagnostic: Facet joint injections can help determine if a specific facet joint is the source of a patient’s pain. If the injection provides temporary pain relief, it suggests that the injected joint contributes to the pain.
- Therapeutic: In addition to diagnosis, the injection can relieve pain by delivering a combination of a local anesthetic (numbing medication) and a corticosteroid (anti-inflammatory medication) directly into the affected joint.
- Preparation: You’ll change into a hospital gown, and your vital signs might be monitored.
- Positioning: You’ll be positioned on an X-ray table, and the skin over the targeted facet joint will be cleaned and sterilized.
- Anesthesia: A local anesthetic will numb the skin and tissues at the injection site.
- Injection: Using fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray guidance), a thin needle is accurately placed into the facet joint. A small amount of contrast dye might be injected to confirm the correct placement. Then, a mixture of local anesthetic and corticosteroid is injected.
- Monitoring: You might be monitored for a short time after the injection to ensure no adverse reactions.
- Pain relief from the anesthetic might be immediate and temporary. The corticosteroid‘s anti-inflammatory effects typically take a few days to kick in.
- Rest and avoiding strenuous activity for a day or two after the injection is generally recommended.
- You might be advised to keep a pain diary to record the effects of the injection.
Risks and Considerations:
- Facet joint injections are generally safe, but like any medical procedure, they carry some risks, such as infection, bleeding, or nerve damage.
- The effects of the injection might vary from person to person and may not provide complete pain relief for everyone.
If you’re considering facet joint injections, consult a healthcare provider specializing in pain management. They can evaluate your condition, discuss potential benefits and risks, and determine if facet joint injections suit you.
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