Facet joints are the structures that connect vertebrae to one another. Just like other joints in the body, facet joints are lined with cartilage, and a capsule surrounds the joint. Normally, the facet provides support, flexibility, and mobility to the entire spinal cord. Two facets conjoin in between each vertebrae. A facet injection attempts to relieve nerve pain by delivering a local anesthetic or steroid treatment to the affected joints. The purpose of facet injections is twofold: pain relief and diagnosis. The pain relief from a facet joint injection is intended to help a patient better tolerate the physical therapy routine to rehabilitate his/her injury or back condition. If the patient experiences relief, then a doctor can reasonably conclude that the facet joint is the underlying cause of the back/neck pain.
Reasons for Receiving Injection
A facet injection is normally performed when a patient experiences severe back and neck pain. According to Ohio Health Medcentral:
Patients with arthritic or thickened facet joints on X-rays that also have any chronic back or neck pain with movement are usually good candidates for facet injections.
However, other patients with normal-looking facet joints who have arthritis or inflammation (undetected by x-ray) can still benefit from an injection. Often, facet injections are necessary for accident victims who have experienced severe whiplash or other traumatic back or neck injuries. If twisting or bending are extremely difficult or painful for a patient, a facet injection can ease the pain. The injection is also utilized to help recovering patients participate in and improve upon their physical therapy.
Facet injections are not completely risk-free. According to Spine Health, the following complications can arise:
- Allergic reaction. Usually, the allergy is to the X-ray contrast or steroid; rarely to local anesthetic. Life threatening or severe allergies are rare.
- Bleeding. A rare complication, bleeding is more common for patients with underlying bleeding disorders or in patients on blood thinners.
- Infection. Minor infections occur in less than 1% to 2% of all injections. Severe infections are rare, occurring in 0.1% to 0.01% of injections.
- Read more about Spinal Infections.
- Discomfort at the point of the injection or worsening of pain symptoms. These symptoms are usually mild and short-lived. Long lasting increases in pain are rare.
- Nerve or spinal cord damage or paralysis. While very rare, damage to the spinal cord or spinal nerves can occur from direct trauma from the needle, or secondarily from infection, bleeding resulting in compression, or injection into an artery causing blockage.
If you or someone you know is suffering from severe facet pain due to someone else’s negligence, or if you experienced any of the above complications as a result of a facet injection, you may be eligible for compensation. With steep medical bills for physical therapy, medications, and even surgery, it can be financially devastating. On top of the financial woes, grave pain and suffering, and loss of wages can accompany such circumstances. The lawyers at Christensen & Hymas make it their goal to ease the burden of such an injury by helping you receive the compensation you deserve. If you have questions or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 801-506-0800.
Photo “Blausen 0391 FacetJointInjection” copyright by BruceBlaus.
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