Facet joint injections are a common treatment for chronic back and neck pain. The procedure involves injecting a steroid medication and a local anesthetic into the facet joint, which is the small joint in each segment of the spinal column. While the local anesthetic provides immediate relief, it's important to know that the steroid does not start working right away. It usually takes two to seven days for patients to begin to experience a reduction in pain.
You may start to notice an improvement in pain two to five days after the injection. If you don't notice any improvement within 10 days, it's unlikely to occur. You can take your regular medications after the procedure, but try to limit pain medications for the first four to six hours. 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 disappeared for months or even years. If the pain recurs, you can always get additional injections. 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.
Your provider may also inject a steroid medication into the facet joint, which can help reduce pain and swelling in and around the joint. If the injection effectively blocked your pain, but only for a short time, your doctor may recommend additional injections. If an initial injection provided some degree of relief, a second injection could reinforce the pain-relieving effect (known as “build-up”). If facet joint injections don't relieve pain, there are other strategies you and your doctor can explore to try to relieve pain.It's important to know what to expect after receiving facet joint injections so you can be prepared for the recovery process.
If you suffer from chronic back or neck pain that has lasted more than six weeks and other interventions haven't helped, your doctor may suggest that you try facet joint injections to try to relieve the pain.Considering that doctors can recommend facet joint injections as often as three times a year, a positive result can be expected to last about four months.