Considering that doctors may recommend facet joint injections as often as three times a year, a positive result can be expected to last about four months. When it comes to the duration of pain relief that patients may experience due to a facet block, there really isn't a concrete answer. However, when the source of the pain is located, patients usually feel immediate relief due to local anesthesia. The effect of this medication will wear off after a few hours, and it may take two to seven days before patients experience the lasting effects.
The amount of time you experience pain relief will vary. For some people, relief may only last for a few weeks. Others may notice that the pain has gone away for months or even years. If the pain recurs, you can always get additional injections.
The beneficial effects of steroids generally require 2 to 3 days to be effective; in some cases, they may take up to 5-7 days. If your symptoms don't change after a week, see your doctor to investigate other possible causes of your pain. Before a facet joint injection, you may be given a diagnostic injection called a medial branch block near a nerve that comes out of the facet joint. If you suffer from chronic back or neck pain, you may be a good candidate for facet joint injections.
However, if the first injection into the facet joint does not relieve the patient's pain, the injection should not be repeated. If an initial injection provided some degree of relief, a second injection could reinforce the pain-relieving effect (known as “build-up”). It's important to know what to expect after receiving facet joint injections so you can be prepared for the recovery process. A facet joint injection is a procedure that identifies the source of irritation in the small joints in each segment of the spine.
If the injection effectively blocked your pain, but only for a short time, your doctor may recommend additional injections. Using a fine needle and radiographic guide (fluoroscopy), the doctor will inject a contrast medium (X-ray dye) into or near the facet joint that is thought to be causing the pain.