Lumbar Facet Joint Injection
A lumbar facet joint injection targets the small painful joints in your spine on both sides of your vertebrae of your lower part of your back. This injection delivers a local anesthetic (numbing medicine) and a steroid to provide immediate and hopefully long-term relief of your back pain. Multiple facet joints on one side of your spine or both sides may be injected at one appointment. Facet joint injections are usually requested for patients whose primary pain is low back pain, as a result of arthritic changes in their facet joints, or patients suffering from chronic mechanical or axial low back pain. The injection may also be used diagnostically (a test to see where the pain is coming from) as well as therapeutic.
If the patient gets immediate relief, and the pain returns after a few days, the patient may be a candidate for a procedure called radiofrequency ablation (RFA). This procedure targets the nerves that surround the facet joint that is inflamed and communicates pain from the joint to the brain. If the patient receives several months of pain relief from the injection, another facet joint injection can be administered to help the patient.
Who are Good Candidates for a Lumbar Facet Joint Injection?
Patients suffering from low back pain, leg pain, or sciatica that stems from inflammation of the facet joints, may benefit from a lumbar facet joint injection. This injection is recommended for those who fail traditional conservative treatment options such as rest, over the counter medications and physical therapy. The doctor may also suggest the injection as a diagnostic test to determine which level the pain is originating.
What Happens During A Lumbar Facet Joint Injection?
The facet joint Injection is usually performed at a surgery center or a doctor’s office. The injection least invasive, outpatient, and takes about 30 minutes. Patients undergoing an injection tolerate the procedure well with localized skin numbing medicine or conscious IV sedation. The patient will lie down on the procedure table, and their low back will be cleaned, and local anesthetic injected at the appropriate level. Using real-time X-ray called fluoroscopy, the doctor guides their needle to the affected facet joint, often contrast dye is used to confirm location in the joint to deliver the steroid and numbing medication.
What Should You Expect After A Lumbar Facet Joint Injection?
It is normal for some patients to experience soreness around the skin injection site for a few hours. Physical activity and rest are recommended immediately after the procedure. Routine work and physical activities can be resumed the following day. Pain relief from the lumbar epidural steroid injection typically begins shortly after the procedure, and the duration of pain relief is variable and depends on the severity of the spinal condition. Some patients will experience short-term relief 2-5 days and some a few months.