Facet Joint Injections
What are Facet Joints?
The spine is made up of vertebrae sitting one of top of the other in a column. Between each vertebrae are pairs of facet joints that act like hinges, holding the vertebrae in place to stabilising the spine, whilst also allowing bending and twisting movement.
They become painful either due to injury, trauma such as whiplash, poor posture, structural problems or wear and tear. As a consequence pain is felt around these joints and can spread. In particular lower back facets can cause referred pain in the buttocks and upper legs. Facet joints in the neck lead to pain in the back of the head, the upper back, and shoulders. When the facet joints are sensitive and tender, muscles nearby can tighten and feel painful.
When conservative treatments have failed to relieve pain and it is still continuing to affect your daily life, facet joint injections may be recommended to you.
What happens during this procedure?
Facet joint injections are a steroid injection (also known as cortisone or hydrocortisone injections). The injection contains a local anaesthetic to numb the pain and a steroid (corticosteroid) to help reduce swelling and inflammation. The injection can relieve pain and restore motion in the short term, to enable physiotherapy to build strength for improvement in the long term.
Your consultant will ensure that the area of skin to be injected is clean. He or she will then inject local anaesthetic into the area of skin surrounding the injection site. Under the guidance of a live X-ray, known as a fluoroscopy, your consultant will gently insert a needle into the facet joint capsule and the medicine is then injected through the needle. You will feel some pressure when the needle is inserted, but most injections are relatively painless.
The procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes to carry out, depending on how many joints are being treated.
How long will it take to recover and what results can be expected?
You may be asked to lay flat for about 30 minutes after receiving facet joint injections. You should be able to go home after a few hours.
Over the coming days you will feel tenderness and bruising at the injection site. You can take pain killers as required.
Success in the long term will be largely dependent on physiotherapy to strengthen the core muscles and help reduce the likelihood and severity of pain returning.
Depending on the success of your facet joint injection, your consultant may recommend radiofrequency denervation.
At One Hatfield Hospital in Hertfordshire, we can book you in to see a specialist Orthopaedic or Pain Management Consultant for an initial consultation, usually within 48 hours.
You can use your private medical insurance or pay for your Facet Joint Injections treatment. We offer competitive, fixed price packages as well as the ability to spread your cost with the option of 0% finance. If you are using your health insurance, please contact your insurer first for approval and let them know you’d like to be treated at either the One Ashford Hospital or One Hatfield Hospital.
Why One Healthcare
- Modern purpose-built hospital opened in March 2016 (Ashford) December 2017 (Hatfield)
- Fast access to diagnostics including MRI, X-ray and Ultrasound
- Private, spacious, en-suite rooms
- Specialist Physiotherapy and nursing teams
- Little or no waiting time
- ‘Ultra clean air’ theatres
- Freshly prepared food
- Calm, dignified experience