Facet joint injections
About facet joint injections
A facet joint injection, also known as a facet joint block injection, is a procedure used to diagnose or manage pain in your lower back, which can also radiate to your buttocks or hips.
Facet joints are the small joints that link your spine together. During the procedure, a steroid – sometimes in combination with a local anaesthetic – is injected in your facet join.This reduces any inflammation in the area, helping to relieve your back and limb pain.
The spine and facet joint
How can I prepare for facet joint injection?
When you have a facet joint injection, you will be seen as a day case. You will not be able to drive immediately after the procedure so ask a friend to take you home.
When you go to the hospital, bring a list of any medicines you are currently taking. You doctor will want to know these, especially any blood thinning medications.
Having a facet joint injection will involve an X-ray. If you are a women, you will be asked if there is any possibility that you are pregnant before the X-ray.
What happens during my treatment?
Before the procedure, your doctor will explain the process to you and ask you to sign a consent form.
You will usually be asked to lie on your front. Your doctor will use a device called a fluoroscope to show an X-ray of your spine on a screen in real-time. He or she will use the fluoroscope to locate the facet joint he or she wishes to inject.
When the joint has been identified, your doctor will sterilize the skin on your back and inject a local anaesthetic there. This will stop you from feeling the next injection into your spine.
When ready, your doctor will gently insert a larger needle into your spine and guide it to the facet joint. When your doctor is happy the needle is positioned correctly, he or she will slowly inject a solution of a steroid, sometimes in combination with a local anaesthetic, into your spine.
This procedure usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but it can sometimes take longer. Because it is carried out under a local anaesthetic, you won't need to stay overnight.
Are there any complications or risks with a facet joint injection?
Like any procedure, a facet joint injection carries some risks of complication. However these are rare. They include allergic reactions, infections and bleeding.
Some people may also have side effects from the steroid in the injection. These could include not sleeping well, nervousness or nightmares, however, these side effects are short lasting.
Recovering from a facet joint injection
After your procedure your doctor will help you stand. You might feel some weakness in your legs – this happens if the nerves that control your movement have been temporarily affected.This doesn't last long however. Some people will start to experience some pain relief within 15 minutes of the procedure. For others it can take up to a week before the pain reduces.
How much does a facet joint injection cost?
For a guide to what you could pay for your treatment, click here.
What to do now
Once you have decided that you would like to be treated at an HCA hospital, or would like further information, here's what to do next:
- Call one of our advisors on + 44 (0) 20 7079 4399 or complete our web enquiry form.
- Check with your insurance company that your policy covers your treatment, and obtain authorisation.
Visit or call your GP to obtain a referral letter and then call us to make an appointment to visit your chosen consultant and hospital at a time to suit you.
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