What to Expect After Facet Joint Injections

Your doctor may suggest a facet joint injection in the area where two vertebrae connect. These areas are joints that help your spine twist and bend. Inflammation can occur in the facet joint, which leads to pain and reduced mobility. That inflammation is commonly due to joint degeneration or arthritis.

What to Expect During

During the facet joint injection, you should expect the doctor not to use sedation. If you need it, they may give you some relaxation medicine. You will lie down on the table, and they will clean and numb the area.

Your doctor will then use fluoroscopy (X-ray guidance) to bring a tiny needle to the facet joint. They will inject a little contrast dye to help confirm the needle is in the right spot. Next, they will inject the medication. It is typically an anti-inflammatory steroid or cortisone combined with a little anesthetic like lidocaine.

Expect the injection portion of the procedure to only take several minutes. The entire procedure, including preparation, usually takes 15 to 30 minutes.

What to Expect Immediately After

 Right after the facet joint injection, you will be asked to stay in the recovery area and keep resting for about 20 or 30 minutes. At this point, the medical team will likely ask you to perform some simple movements. Some are movements to test whether you experienced any immediate pain relief. Other movements help ensure you are recovered from the injection, and it is safe for you to leave.

Before you leave, you will have a chance to ask any questions and have any concerns addressed.

Potential Numbness

Although it is not always the case, you may notice some numbness in your back or neck for a few hours after receiving the injection. Instead of numbness, you may notice an odd sensation or that these areas feel slightly weak.

This is part of the reason that you are not supposed to drive after a facet joint injection.

What to Expect in Terms of Pain Relief

Depending on what caused your pain, you may not experience pain relief right after the injection. It is more likely that you will notice relief sooner if the joints targeted with the injection were the main pain source.

Your doctor will likely ask you to avoid pain medication in the next four or six hours immediately after the injection to evaluate your pain level.

It is also worth noting that the initial pain relief comes from the anesthetic, not the steroid in many cases. The steroid may take two to seven days to start taking effect. In some cases, it may take up to two weeks.

If your facet joint injection is successful, you should expect to experience pain relief for several months. Keep in mind that all patients react differently. You may experience full pain relief or just some pain relief or even none.

What Not to Do the Day of the Injection

 As mentioned, you should not drive on the day of your facet joint injection. If your doctor used sedation, do not drive for at least 24 hours after the injection.

It would help if you also avoid strenuous activities on the day of the injection.

Find Qualified Doctor For Facet Joint Injections

 At New York Spine Specialist, we specialize in treating patients for back and neck pain after an injury or an accident. If you suffer pain or discomfort, call us to make an appointment at 516-355-0111. Our doctors accept no-fault, workers’ compensation and other insurance plans. We are here to help and offer the right treatment for your condition.