How does it work?
A Corticosteroid is a strong anti-inflammatory medicine that can reduce the inflammation that occurs from arthritis and degenerative changes in the joint. The corticosteroid is injected, along with a local anesthetic medicine (like Marcaine) to provide immediate joint numbing and pain relief.
How is it done?
After the patient is given some slight sedation and the skin is anesthetized, a needle is directed into the facet joint under X-ray(fluoroscopic) guidance. A small amount of X-ray dye is injected to confirm the needle is in the joint. A mixture of steroids and local anesthetic is then injected.
As with any invasive procedure, there are some risks and complications associated with facet injections. Anytime a needle is put into the body, there is a risk of infection, bleeding and allergic reaction. The risk of infection is prevented by using sterile techniques. The risk of bleeding is very minimal if patients are not on any blood thinners. There are very few allergic reactions to the medications that are used for the injection. If any allergic reactions are identified, medications will be given and patients will be observed to prevent any serious complications. Steroids may have several side effects, but are limited due to the small amount of medication used in the procedure.
In the low back, there are risks of back pain, headache, worsening the pain, not helping the pain, and causing persistent numbness and/or weakness. In most individuals, the spinal cord ends at L1-2, so any injections below those levels have essentially no risk of spinal cord injury or paralysis.