Why am I having injections?

When facet joints become inflamed or stiff they can give rise to pain. The consultant feels that facet joint injections, which have proved to be very effective for some patients, are worth trying.

What is a facet joint?

The spine is made up of small bones (vertebrae) sitting one on top of the other. Between each vertebrae and the next are small joints called facet joints. These joints allow the spine to move backward and forwards, side to side and to twist.

What is injected?

A small amount of local anaesthetic with or without a steroid is injected into one or more of the facet joints. The steroid acts only around the area it is injected into and does not have the same effects as taking long-term steroids.

Where is it done?

The procedure is carried out in the Hospital. A letter with directions and instructions will be sent to you. How is it done?

  • You will be asked to wear a gown
  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach on the x-ray table(Possibly lie on your back if for cervical facet joint injection)
  • The area is cleaned with anti-septic, x-ray pictures are taken throughout the procedure to direct the needle into the facet joints
  • The consultant will numb the area with local anaesthetic before putting in the facet joint injection
  • Although you may experience some discomfort during the procedure, this is a good sign. It helps the consultant to know he is putting the injection exactly where it is needed
  • Sedation is not normally used for this procedure, but if you feel anxious then you can discuss it with the consultant prior to the injection being carried out

How long will I be in hospital?

Although the procedure itself only takes 10-15 minutes you will be asked to stay for between 30 mins -1 hour before you are allowed home. During this time you are offered a drink and a biscuit.

Can I eat and drink?

You may have a light early breakfast on the day of the admission.

Can I take my usual tablets?

Take your usual medications in the morning and bring your medications with you. (Patients taking warfarin will be given individual information)

Can I drive home?

For safety reasons you are asked not to drive home on the day, and to make sure that you have someone with you for the rest of the day.

What can go wrong?

  • You may experience mild discomfort at the site of the injection; this should last no longer than 48 hours. In about one third of patients this can last for up to one week
  • Occasionally you may feel sore or ‘bruised’ for the first day or so, until the steroid starts to work