The Lumbar Facet Joint Injection is a procedure we use to decrease pain caused by problems in the lumbar (low back) spine.
Lumbar facet joints, which are not much larger than your thumbnail, are located on either side of each vertebra. They provide stability and guide motion in the low back. If the joints become inflamed you may experience not only low back pain but also pain in the abdomen, buttocks, groin and legs. If there is a very good response to facet joint injection, this may help your specialist determine if a longer lasting treatment like rhizotomy will work for you.
The Lumbar Facet Joint Injection is an outpatient procedure performed in our CT procedure room. For the procedure you will be lying on your stomach for approximately 10 minutes only. Your back is cleansed with an antiseptic after which the doctor injects local anaesthetic into your skin and tissue. This will make the area less pain sensitive when the needle is positioned at the facet joint.
After the local anaesthetic takes effect the doctor will insert another needle, and ensure it is in the exact position with the CT scanner. When satisfied with the needle position, the doctor will inject a small mixture of long-acting local anaesthetic and anti-inflammatory medicine (cortisone/steroid). We ask that you remain at the Clinic until the doctor feels you are ready to leave. This is usually for 10 minutes only. No sedation is necessary, so you should be capable of driving after the procedure.
How long will the procedure take?
Normally, a lumbar facet joint injection takes no more than 10 or 15 minutes.
Before the procedure
There is no need to be fasted. If you are a diabetic, be sure to discuss your eating and medication schedule with your doctor. You may need to stop taking certain medications (i.e. warfarin) several days before the procedure.
After the procedure
Do not engage in any exertional activities for 48 hours. Depending on how you feel, you may resume normal activities and return to work the following day. If the doctor prescribes physical therapy, it is very important that you continue with the physical therapy program. Although you may feel much better immediately after the injection (due to the local anaesthetic), there is a possibility your pain may return within a few hours. It may take 2-3 weeks for the steroid medication to start working.
The risks, although infrequent, include infection or bleeding at the site of injection, increased pain or discomfort. More serious adverse events are rare.