The steroid in a facet joint injection does not start working immediately. It usually takes two to seven days for patients to begin to experience a reduction in pain. However, immediately after the injection, there will be some relief thanks to the local anesthetic used. The long-term effect of the drug cannot be predicted.
Usually, the immediate effect comes from the local anesthetic injected. The effect wears off in a few hours. The steroid starts to work in about 2 to 7 days and its effect may last for some time. The amount of time you experience pain relief will vary.
For some people, relief may only last 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 steroid usually starts working between two days and two weeks after the injection.
Pain relief varies for each individual, from lack of relief to long-term pain relief. Patients may receive up to four steroid injections per year, depending on their other health problems, or steroid injections in different areas of the body. Just as a finger, knee, or hip joint can cause you discomfort, so can the facet joints of the neck and back. The purpose of facet joint injections is to reduce pain and inflammation in facet joints by injecting a steroid (a powerful anti-inflammatory drug) into the joint.
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. The risks of facet joint injections are minimal and are similar to those of any procedure involving the placement of a needle. Side effects of the injected steroid may include temporary weight gain, a temporary increase in blood sugar (mainly in diabetics), and temporary fluid retention; you can talk in more detail about the steroid medication when you are going to receive the injection.
It's important to know what to expect after receiving facet joint injections to be prepared for the recovery process. Very small needles are placed inside the joint capsule and a small volume (usually about 1 ml) is placed in each joint.