What Should You Know About Epidural & Facet Injections
Epidural and facet injections are two of the most common and effective injections for managing back pain and nerve root pain (commonly called “sciatica”). There are thousands of these injections given to patients across America every year because the lifetime prevalence of low back pain is about 50 to 80 percent.
An epidural injection is often administered to relieve pain in the back or neck caused by herniated discs or spinal stenosis. A facet injection is an injection into the facet joint. Facet injections may be given for painful arthritis of the spine.
Primarily, epidural injections are pretty straightforward and address direct concerns. This injection works as a treatment for lower back pain conditions caused by disc herniation, spinal stenosis, annular tear, or pain that springs from pinched nerves.
Epidural injections involve a mix of medication such as cortisone (steroid) and anesthetic. These work to relieve pain and inflammation that patients struggle with and to prevent the need for surgical management.
There are different techniques for administering an epidural injection, but the most commonly used procedure is to let the patient lie on his stomach for fluoroscopy (X-ray guidance). Local anesthesia is used to numb the skin, and the whole process takes fewer than 5 minutes to complete.
If the patient is taking blood thinners, it’s important to discuss this with our doctor before the injection. It is unsafe to perform epidural injections while a patient is on blood thinners.
Once the procedure is done, the patient may expect some discomfort in the back, which will improve within a matter of days. The patient will be expected to take it slowly for a few days and put an ice pack over the injection area.
Epidural injections typically consist of two sessions set within a two-week interval.
Does epidural steroid injection work for cervical spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a condition wherein the spinal canal that houses sensitive nerves becomes narrowed and puts pressure on the spinal cord. Cervical spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck area.
Patients with this condition can suffer balance problems that put them at risk of fall injuries. They also experience neck pain, stiffness, and numbness that may radiate to the shoulders, arms, and hands.
Cervical epidural steroid injections can provide some relief from pain caused by cervical spinal stenosis. Research has shown that patients who received a single dose of steroid injection reported a 50% reduction in the severity of neck pain.
What to expect after an epidural steroid injection
Since local anesthesia is injected on the site before the steroid itself, patients may feel some numbness in the neck and arms after the procedure. Some degree of dizziness is also a common side effect but goes away in a couple of hours.
The first onset of pain relief brought by an epidural steroid injection will not take effect immediately, and the patient will be feeling pain and soreness in the neck for a few days. Once the steroids start working, however, around 1 to 5 days after the injection, patients can enjoy days or even months of pain relief.
Facet injections treat back pain as well, but it’s the type of back pain related to arthritis or a degenerative disease. This method has a high rate of success in alleviating non-radiating pain in the arthritic joints.
Just like an epidural injection, this procedure takes 15 to 20 minutes, but the patient will not necessarily require sedation or anesthesia. After the procedure, the patient will be asked to perform some movements to evaluate the effects of the procedure.
Answers to common questions about epidural and facet injection
Where is the epidural space?
The epidural space surrounds the spinal cord and contains blood vessels and nerve roots.
What medication is injected?
Usually a mixture of local anaesthetic and steroid. Steroids are the most potent anti-inflammatory medications available and are commonly used in treating pain.
Is the injection painful?
No. Your doctor is a trained anesthesiologist and uses a local anesthetic to numb the area first.
How many injections are needed?
Usually not more than 3-4 in 6 months. However, this varies with each patient.
Are these procedures safe?
Yes. The most common concerns are with the side effects of the medications used. These are rare and usually transient. Your doctor will discuss them with you in detail before the procedure.
Can I drive afterwards?
No. The local anaesthetic used may cause temporary numbness or weakness in the legs or arms, which could affect your ability to drive.
What if the procedure does not work?
Our board-certified Pain Specialist can treat your pain with many different modalities. A combination of procedures, some more advanced than others, together with medication and physical therapy, usually provide relief of pain.
Learn more about epidural steroid injections at Advanced Pain Medical Center
At APMC, we believe pain management is about much more than offering surgery or painkillers – it’s about getting to the root cause of the pain. We offer various techniques for pain management in Gainesville, FL. These include a rapidly advancing medical specialty that uses a multi-disciplinary strategy for treating all types of pain and improving a patient’s quality of life.
One-to-one compassionate care is the standard of practice here, and step-by-step communication – from the initial consultation and throughout the treatment and rehabilitation process – allows our patients peace of mind and reassurance.
Our goal is to provide unparalleled patient care, returning you to an active, productive, and pain-free lifestyle. Schedule an appointment now.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.