Joint pain within the spine is an incredibly common problem that most people experience at some point. Remedy Pain Solutions is led by nationally-renowned interventional pain specialists who see patients experiencing joint pains almost every day. We use facet injections to diagnose the affected facet joints and provide immediate pain relief. Please schedule an appointment with the interventional pain specialists at our offices in Marina del Rey or Manhattan Beach to discuss your facet injection options.
What are Facet Joints?
Before we discuss facet injections, it’s important to discuss the facet joint anatomy. Facet joints are the small joints on each segment of the spine, responsible for spinal stability and mobility. The spinal column consists of one facet joint on each side of the vertebrae. These joints, in turn, are surrounded by soft cartilages and capsules with synovial fluids — components that facilitate smooth joint movements without friction. Facet joint pains occur when any of these components are compromised or damaged.
What are Facet Injections?
A facet injection consists of small amounts of a local anesthetic and steroid medicine. The corticosteroid and anesthetics identify the affected facet joints, reduce inflammation, and provide immediate relief from the pain. Facet injections serve two goals — diagnostic and pain relief.
- Diagnosis: The numbing agent in the injection identifies the facet joint responsible for the pain. If the injection leads to complete pain relief, the targeted facet joint is individually responsible. If it relieves a percentage of the pain, other facet joints might be affected, as well. And if there’s no pain, that indicates the targeted facet joint isn’t the problem.
- Pain Relief: While the local anesthetic serves the diagnostic function, the cortisone steroid serves the pain relief function. The time-release cortisone has anti-inflammatory properties, allowing it to reduce inflammation around the affected facet joint. This allows the injection to block the source of the pain.
The Facet Injection Procedure
Remedy Pain Solutions provides facet injections after performing a thorough analysis and diagnosis to determine the root cause of your problem. Our interventional pain specialists discuss your symptoms, review your health history, and perform physical examinations. They might look for swelling, trigger points, and mobility issues around the affected areas, narrowing down the possible facet joints responsible for your pain. We also perform imaging tests to visualize the underlying bones, joints, and cartilage to look for inflammation and damages.
Facet injections are performed as an in-office and outpatient procedure. Sedation, while unnecessary, can be provided to alleviate your anxieties. You’re asked to lie face-down on a table, allowing the pain specialists to access your spine. The skin around the affected area is cleansed. A local anesthetic may be injected into the targeted area to ensure optimal comfort. Using fluoroscopic guidance, the pain specialist will inject a small amount of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroid into the targeted facet joint.
The entire procedure concludes within 15 minutes, following which you’re asked to rest in the recovery room for about 30 minutes. If the injection is delivered into the correct facet joint, you might experience pain relief in a few hours. And if there’s no relief, the pain specialist might perform another facet injection to target other facet joints. You should avoid strenuous workouts for the first day after the treatment, but you can resume most of your daily activities as soon as you’re able.
Once the affected facet joint is identified, your pain specialist may discuss long-term solutions, such as Rhizotomy, PRP therapy, stem cell therapy, or other regenerative medicines.