About 30 percent of all patients experiencing lower back pain are actually suffering from Facet Joint Pain. Facet joints control the motion and flexibility of the spine. When these joints become inflamed or irritated, the pain can range from infrequent, sharp pain to chronic, debilitating pain.
If you are suffering from pain in your lower back caused by Facet Joint inflammation or injury, you may have been told surgery is required to relieve your pain. This may not be the case. There’s a minimally-invasive alternative to spinal surgery that can deliver similar or better pain relief without the risks associated with spinal fusion or other aggressive surgical interventions.
Read: What are facet joints?
Facet Joint Injections relieve the pain and inflammation in your Facet Joints, and, in some cases, may help your physician discover a deeper, underlying cause for your back pain. The injections are a simple, four-step medical procedure that can be completed in a single visit on an outpatient basis.
STEP 1: The skin and tissue above the facet joint is numbed in preparation for the injection of the local anesthetic.
STEP 2: Using a fluoroscope (a specialized X-ray device) Dr. Skaliy guides the needle through the numbed tissue into the facet joint.
STEP 3: Dye is injected to confirm needle placement for optimal results.
STEP 4: Once the needle is properly positioned, Dr. Skaliy injects a mixture of two medications, an anti-inflammatory steroid and a numbing anesthetic.
Depending on the patient’s specific needs, Dr. Skaliy can treat one or more facet joints during the same procedure. The associated neck or back pain may disappear immediately due to the anesthetic. In some cases, the anesthetic wears off before the steroid takes effect. This does not mean the treatment was unsuccessful. The anti-inflammatory attributes of the steroid component may take a few days to be noticed.
Facet joint injections may relieve pain for several days or several months. The benefits differ from patient to patient. Up to three injections may be given per year.
If the treatment is ineffective, it’s possible the pain is caused by another spinal disease or condition. In this case, further tests will be needed to assess the underlying cause of the pain.