WHAT IS A FACET JOINT INJECTION?

Facet joints join the vertebrae together at the back of the spine. They can often become arthritic or inflamed, causing back pain. A facet joint injection is used to provide temporary pain relief for back pain arising from facet joints. A specialist Radiologist will inject a mixture of steroids (e.g. cortisone), anaesthetics and anti-inflammatories into a facet joint through a needle.

PATIENT PREPARATION: 
  1. Anticoagulation and blooding-thinning medications (e.g. Warfarin, Aspirin, Platelet Inhibitors, etc.) may need to be ceased. Please refer to our Anticoagulation Medication Information Sheet for details.
  2. You will need to bring any previous scans that are relevant to the procedure.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURING MY FACET JOINT INJECTION?

Upon arrival you will be asked to complete a medical history questionnaire and consent form. You will be asked to change into a gown and shown into the procedure room. Before commencing the procedure, the radiologist will explain the procedure and any associated risks involved to you. They will not perform the procedure without your consent.

Facet joint injections are performed by a specialist Radiologist, usually under CT guidance, but can also be performed under fluoroscopy (x-rays). A trained radiographer will be present to assist with the image guidance. You will be asked to lay face down on the CT or fluoroscopy table. Some planning scans will be performed to locate the correct position for the injection.

The procedure is performed using aseptic technique to reduce the chance of infection. This means that everything used during the procedure is sterile, including single use sterile gloves, syringes and needles.

Local anaesthetic may be used to numb the skin at the site of injection. This often stings for 15-20 seconds and subsides as the area becomes numb. The radiologist will then gradually advance the needle into the correct position using image guidance. When the radiologist is satisfied that the needle is in the correct position, they will inject the steroid and anaesthetic mixture.

Most facet joint injections take about 15-30 minutes.

POST-PROCEDURE INFORMATION:

You should be able to walk freely and leave the practice straight after the procedure. Rarely, you may experience numbness or pain in your legs. If you do, you should notify the radiologist before leaving.

You can recommence any blood-thinning medications the same day after the procedure, unless advised otherwise. We recommend that you see your doctor a week after the procedure to readjust your Warfarin dosage.

For your comfort it is recommended that you:

                    Take things easy for the next 48 hours

                    Resume your normal activity as limited by pain

                    You may apply ice to the affected area

                    You may continue with physiotherapy etc.

The injection may give you immediate relief of pain due to the local anaesthetic but this will only last for a few hours. You may notice that you have some weakness of your legs, which is due to the local anaesthetic that blocks the pain and action of the nerve. You may have a sore back for one or two days, but following this period the steroid should take effect and you may notice a decrease in your pain over the next two weeks.

The injection will not make you drowsy so you may drive a car or catch public transport, unless you have significant weakness in your legs.

The injection is often used to see if the site in question is the cause of your pain. If the injection has minimal effect then it may not be the exact origin of your pain.  It is important to note your response to the injection, and perhaps to keep a diary so that you can inform your doctor on your next visit.

The duration of pain relief from this type of injection is quite variable and depends partially on the severity of underlying disease. It is often possible to repeat the injection if symptoms recur, which can be discussed with your doctor or your treating Radiologist.

Some patients have reported the development of white discolouration around the injection site but this is uncommon. There have also been incidences of an increase in symptoms over the first few hours following the injection but this generally settles down. 

On rare occasions the injected area may become infected so if you experience any of the following please contact your doctor as soon as possible:

                    Localised pain more than you normally have

                    Swelling

                    Inflammation (redness)

                    Fever

                    Shivering

CONTACT US

Ashfield

9716 3600

Campsie

 8042 3000

Drummoyne

9911 6800

Five Dock

8705 8300

Hurstville

9598 0100

Newtown

8228 9000

North Strathfield

8282 8100

North Sydney (Mater Imaging)

9955 4466
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