• Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Rehabilitation

Facet Joint Injections

Description and Presentation

Facet joints are small, paired joints (left and right) located along the length of your spine that link the vertebrae together. If the joints are worn, inflamed, traumatised or subject to repeated stress they can give rise to pain. This can result in local inflammation in the joint and the surrounding muscles and ligaments of the spine. Over time this may lead to muscle weakness, stiffness and loss of movement.

Investigation

These include X-ray, ultrasound scan, MRI scan.

Facet Joint Injections

Non operative treatment will be discussed with you at your consultation. Depending on your particular situation, these can include measures such as physiotherapy, massage and acupuncture.

Operative treatment: Facet Joint Injections – one way of finding out whether facet joints are the source of pain is to perform facet joint injections. This involves anaesthetising (numbing) the small nerves to the facet joints to see if pain is reduced. The procedure is performed under X-ray guidance. The details of the procedure, its specific risks and potential complications will be discussed with you prior to your procedure.

Facet Joint Injections

The pain relieving effect of these injections may not be apparent for up to two weeks.
You will experience back discomfort for a few days after your injections and may feel “bruised”. We normally suggest that you take things gently during this time. Please use your usual analgesics as prescribed.

When your back is feeling more comfortable, you will need to perform daily back exercises and muscle stretches. Start slowly and build up time spent exercising over a few weeks.

Outcome

If pain relief following injections is disappointing for you, it probably suggests that although the facet joint inflammation has been treated, the muscle pain and lack of function is the ongoing problem. This can and will usually improve over time.