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Understanding Facet Joint Injection

Facet joint injection is done in a hospital or surgery center. You’ll be asked to fill out some forms, including a consent form. You may also be examined.

During the procedure

 You will lie on an exam table on your stomach. During your procedure:

  • The skin over the injection site is cleaned. A local anesthetic (pain medicine) numbs the skin.

  • X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy) will be used to help the healthcare provider see your spine. Contrast dye is used to confirm optimal location of the injection.

  • The injection is given and may contain a local anesthetic to numb the region and steroid medicine, such as cortisone.

  • Try not to move during the procedure. Your cooperation can help speed it up.

After the procedure

Usually, you can go home in about an hour. Have an adult friend or relative drive you. The anesthetic wears off in a few hours. When it does, your back or neck may feel more sore than usual. This is normal. Take it easy for the rest of the day. Your pain may get worse the first 24 hours after the procedure. If you notice increased pain or injection site soreness, apply ice wrapped in a towel for 10-15 minutes a few times a day.  

It can take 3-4 days before the effects of the steroids are noticed. Keep the injection area clean and dry. Don’t apply any ointments, creams, or patches over the injection site. Stay away from soaking in a bathtub or pool for the first 48 hours. Ask your healthcare provider when you can go back to work.

Possible risks and complications

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Worsening pain

  • Paralysis

  • Nerve damage

  • Allergic reaction

  • Increased blood sugar

  • Immune system suppression

  • Death

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Severe headaches

  • Fever over 101.0°F (38.3 °C)

  • Chills

  • Redness or drainage at the injection site

  • Weakness in your arms or legs

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 10/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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