Could You Benefit from a Facet Joint Injection?
Joint pain is one of the most common forms of chronic pain, keeping millions of Americans from leading the lives that they wish to live. Although persistent neck and upper back pain can occur due to physical trauma or illness, poor posture or repeated strain over time are common causes as well. The latter is especially true for those who spend much of their day working at a computer or who remain stagnant for long periods of time
Repetitive motions like lifting or sweeping, particularly after suffering an injury, are additional common causes of facet joint pain. If you’ve tried stretching exercises and other forms of treatment, it may be time to consider seeing a back specialist who offers facet joint injections.
What Are Facet Joints?
A facet joint is a small joint located between and behind the vertebrae in your spine. When these joints behave normally, they provide a stabilizing force for your neck and upper back. However, back and neck pain results when the facet joints wear down due to osteoarthritis or because of one of the conditions mentioned above. Left untreated, you may eventually develop facet joint syndrome. Its symptoms include:
• Back and neck pain
• Muscle weakness
• Difficulty bending and twisting the spine
Through a facet joint injection, a back specialist can help alleviate the pressure overload and pain you experience from bone rubbing against bone. You may be a prime candidate if you have failed at other treatments or have a diagnosis of osteoarthritis.
What Happens During a Facet Joint Injection Procedure?
Before you receive an injection, a pain management doctor uses live X-ray to find the proper location to insert the needle. Once located, the doctor numbs the area receiving the injection. He or she will use contrast dye to ensure that the needle lands in the correct location inside of the joint and that the medication remains contained within it. A mixture of anti-inflammatory medication and anesthetic then comes through the needle.
Are There Any Risks to Facet Joint Injections?
As with any invasive procedure, facet joint injections come with some risks. Fortunately, they are rare. These may include:
• Discomfort at the injection site
• Allergic reaction to the medication
• Nerve or spinal cord damage
No One Has to Live with Facet Joint Syndrome
Some people put up with the pain of osteoarthritis because they feel that it is an inevitable part of getting older. No matter what your age, you don’t have to live with constant pain. If your primary doctor doesn’t offer facet joint injections, you may need to seek an alternative healthcare practitioner who does.