What are Facet and SI Joints?
Facet joints and SI joints connect the vertebrae, the bones of the spine and the sacrum. They help guide your spine when you move. The Neck area is called the cervical region, the upper back area is called the thoracic region, the low back area of the spine is called the lumbar region and the buttock area is called the sacral region. Facet joints and SI joints are found on both sides of the spine. The facet joints and SI joints are named for the vertebrae they connect and the side of the spine where they are found. All Facet Joints and SI joints have Pain Nerves which can be blocked.
What is Facet joint or SI joint pain?
You may feel pain if a facet joint or SI joint is injured. Sometimes it feels like muscle tension. Other times it can be severe pain. The cartilage inside the joint may be injured. Other times only connecting ligaments surrounding the joint are injured. Facet pain also depends on which joint is affected. Cervical facet joint pain can be felt as headaches, Neck Pain and into the shoulder blades, Lumbar facet joint pain can occur in an area from your low back down to your buttocks, groin, hips and legs, as can SI joint pain.
What is a facet or SI joint injection?
In a facet or SI joint injection, a local anesthetic (numbing medicine) corticosteroid (anti-inflammatory medicine) are injected into one or more of the facet joints or SI joints. The injection can be used to diagnose and or treat an injured joint or joints with a combination of local anesthetic and steroid being injected to see if you obtain temporarily or complete relief of your pain. If you do, and if this helps you feel and move better, it tells the doctor which facet joint may be causing the pain. The corticosteroid is used to treat inflammation of injured or irritated facet joint or joints. Based on your responses, the doctor may repeat the procedures and or move to a more permanent procedure called a RadioFrequency.
What is the typical procedure?
If you are having it performed and desire IV sedation they will require you to not eat 8 hours prior to the procedure and only clear liquids up to 4 hours prior. Nothing to eat or drink for the last 4 hours prior. If you are not receiving sedation just don’t eat or drink 2 hours prior please. Your will be monitored closely with blood pressure, and a blood oxygen monitoring device. Local anesthetic and freezing spray will be used before the actual injection to diminish any discomfort. The physician then locates, under fluoroscopy (X-ray), a specific anatomical target site or location that is near the problem area, Contrast is used to confirm proper placement of medication; typically anesthetic and steroid is then injected. The Procedure may cause some slight discomfort, however typically is not painful.
What should I expect following the procedure?
Initially you may have some increase in discomfort due to the initial irritation from the procedure and ice can be helpful. The pain relief will begin over 48 to 72 hours after the procedure and often times a series of 3 procedures is ordered if indicated. Certainly if you have any concerns prior to or following the procedure please call our office at 850-484-4080 or call the surgical center where the procedure was performed.