What Is The Purpose Of A Facet Joint Injection?
Facet joints are located at each segment of the spinal cord. The function of the facet joint is to provide stability to the spinal cord and allow smooth motion. Sometimes, these facet joints are put under excessive stress as a result of repetitive activities like lifting and bending which is normally done by individuals who are into the construction industry. This result in the facet joint getting injured or damaged resulting in the individual having severe low back pain. Certain medical conditions like arthritis also play a role in the facet joint getting injured or damaged causing back pain.
A facet joint mediated pain can be extremely incapacitating in nature and will make it tough for the affected individual to carry out normal activities of daily living or work related activities like sitting or standing for a long period of time.
There are medications in the form of NSAIDs which help quite a bit in relieving facet mediated pain but this effect does not last long and the pain always returns. When medications start to lose their efficacy then the healthcare provider recommends a Facet Joint Injection.
A Facet Joint Injection is done at the level of the facet joint that is causing the pain. The injection consists of an antiinflammatory medication, an anesthetic, and a steroid medication which is injected into the facet joint for pain relief. A facet joint injection is usually done to improve the quality of life of the affected individual so that he or she is able to better tolerate the rehabilitative process that follows for treatment of conditions like arthritis. Facet joint Injections are done both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
If the individual has immediate relief of pain after the injection then the problem is with the facet joint. Therapeutically, the steroid and the antiinflammatory medication present in the injection act as means of calming down the pain and inflammation providing long term pain relief.
How Is A Facet Joint Injection Performed?
In order to perform a facet joint injection, the patient is made to lie in a prone position on a table. The area around the facet joint is anesthetized with a local anesthetic. Then, under fluoroscopic guidance a small needle is directly inserted into the facet joint causing the symptoms.
Contrast dye is then injected to confirm the correct positioning of the needle in the facet joint and that the medication is correctly placed within the joint. Once confirmed, a mixture of lidocaine, cortisone, and an antiinflammatory medication is then injected into the joint in a slow and guarded fashion. This is how a Facet Joint Injection is performed.