The steroid in a facet joint injection does not take effect right away. Generally, it takes two to seven days for patients to start feeling a decrease in pain. However, the local anesthetic used will provide some relief immediately after the injection. The long-term effects of the drug cannot be accurately predicted.
The immediate effect is usually due to the local anesthetic injected. This effect wears off in a few hours. The steroid begins to work in two to seven days and its effects may last for some time. The amount of time you experience pain relief will vary from person to person.
For some, the relief may only last a few weeks. Others may find that the pain has gone away for months or even years. If the pain returns, additional injections can be administered. The steroid usually starts working between two days and two weeks after the injection.Pain relief varies from individual to individual, ranging from no relief to long-term pain relief.
Patients may receive up to four steroid injections per year, depending on their other health conditions or injections in different parts of the body. Just as a finger, knee, or hip joint can cause 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 discuss the steroid medication in more detail when you are going to receive the injection.It is important to know what to expect after receiving facet joint injections so that you can prepare for the recovery process. Very small needles are inserted into the joint capsule and a small volume (usually about 1 ml) is injected into each joint.