Spinal Facet Injections

Endoscopic spinal surgery approaches

The human body is fearfully and wonderfully made. Spinal facet joints—the hinge joints or motion segments of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine—provide the means by which complex spinal movements can occur, such as turning, bending, or twisting. They aid mobility, balance, and range of motion. Disease, injury, or wear and tear can cause degeneration or deterioration of these joints. Pain and restricted movement often result. Facet joint disease is almost always associated with spinal stenosis for years before leg pain symptoms develop.

Facet joint injections or “blocks” may provide useful diagnostic information. In addition to providing short term pain relief, they may help the spinal specialist determine the site of spinal pain and whether or not the facet joints are involved. The block may be performed at the level of the facet joint itself, or at the level of the medial branch nerve supplying sensation to the joint.

Depending on the location, facet pain and pressure on neighboring nerves may cause referred pain symptoms in the form of headaches, shoulder and arm pain, chest and rib pain, along with leg or buttock pain. If pain recurs after a successful facet injection, additional procedures, such as facet denervation or facet rhizotomy, may be employed for long term relief of symptoms.

What to Expect

  • Patients will enter the pre-op area where vital signs are taken.
  • For those patients needing sedation, an IV will be started for the medication.
  • Patients will then enter the procedure room and lie face down on the procedural table with a pillow under the abdomen for lumbar procedures, or face up with a pillow under the head for cervical procedures.
  • Once correctly positioned, an x-ray machine will be utilized to localize needle placement to the area(s) shown by imaging tests to be responsible for the pain.
  • The skin overlying the site of injection is antiseptically cleaned and covered with sterile drapes. Local anesthesia will be injected to numb the area where the injection will be performed. The facet block needle is properly placed.
  • At the completion of the procedure, the needle is withdrawn and a Band-aid dressing is applied.

Post-Procedural Follow-up

  • Avoid being on your feet for 2-3 hours following the facet joint injection.
  • Do not drive or operate dangerous equipment or machinery during this time.
  • Notify clinic staff if you experience prolonged pain at the injection site, fever, chills, dizziness, or leg or arm numbness that lasts more than 2-3 hours.
  • A drop or two of blood at the injection site is normal. Contact the office if you experience persistent bleeding or drainage at the injection site.
  • Follow all instructions for further care.
  • Expect to see results from the injection with 2-5 days. You may experience continued improvement over the next several days. Full benefit may take as long as two weeks to occur. You may use any supplemental pain medications during this time.
  • Remember, follow-up care is essential to determine the success or failure of the procedure, and to plan further care based on the results.
  • Contact Synergy Spine Center staff with any additional questions or concerns.

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