1 year ago

written by Mark LeDoux, MD

A back injury can get you down and have you unable to move. Whenever you are suffering from an injury, whether in the thorax, lumbar, or cervical region of the back, facet joint injections may be the best method for treating your pain. The injection is a numbing agent that helps relieve pain in the back region during physical therapy. Physical therapy is not easy. Sometimes the way the therapist manipulates the back and exercises it can have you in great pain. These injections are good for helping you get through these tough sessions.

Facet joint injections are named based on the type of joints they are injected into. The spine is full of facet joints. Each joint is separated by cartilage which makes the movement of the joints in the spine smooth. These joints are very flexible and give you a wide range of motion. Any injury to these joints may limit your mobility making bending and twisting tough to do. The facet joint injection contains anesthesia which is used to numb the pain. It may seem like the only purpose of the injection is to get rid of the pain, but it has another important purpose as well.

When you are experiencing pain, it could be a joint, muscle, ligament, or tendon causing the problem. Facet joint injections are good for ruling out potential issues. When an injection is inserted into the joint, you may feel all your pain go away instantly, or you may continue to have pain and discomfort. If your pain goes away completely, your problem is the joint. If the pain does not go away at all or takes quite a bit of time to subside, the source of your problem is probably not a joint but something else. The other good thing about this injection is that it is accompanied by a steroid shot that makes the pain reliever last longer.

The procedure for facet joint injections is a bit more detailed than your normal flu shot. The doctor will numb the area first and uses an X-ray to guide them into the right spot. For a facet joint injection to work, you have to place it into the joint. The only way to see the joint is through the X-ray. Once the needle is inserted, contrast dye is used to make sure it is in the right place. Once that is verified, the medication is injected into the joint. The procedure is relatively quick, and once it’s over, your pain should be diminished.

Facet joint injections are great, especially if you are dealing with pain that prevents you from getting the therapy you need. To truly heal from a back injury involving your spine, it is important for you to go through physical therapy. If therapy cannot be done, you will not heal as quickly.  If you are suffering from facet joint pain, speak with your physician about this injection. It may help you gain your strength back.
Dr. Mark LeDoux is a dual Board Certified Interventional Pain Management Specialist and Anesthesiologist by the American Board of Anesthesiology with a Fellowship in Interventional Pain Management. Dr. LeDoux is co-director of Interventional Spine & Pain with offices in Dallas and Addison Texas. Dr. LeDoux has been named 2015-2016 Top10MD an honor only 1-in-3 doctors succeeds within the United States. To schedule a consultation with Dr. LeDoux, click on his profile or call his office at 214-888-3900.


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