26 Sep Can Facet Joint Injections Make My Pain WORSE?
Back and neck pain is estimated to be the number one reason across the United States for sick days. In fact, 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their life – and for around 10% of Americans that pain will be constant and chronic. For these patients – every day is a struggle to stay pain-free, with many turning to addictive prescription medications like Fentanyl or Codeine to keep going and keep active. Long term this isn’t a solution. So what other options are available for patients with chronic back pain?
What treatments are available for back pain?
- Anti Inflammatory medications like NSAIDs or Paracetamol can be used to reduce inflammation in the back and therefore reduce the likelihood of pain signals being sent up to the brain.
- Physiotherapists can help by giving patients strengthening exercises that will help build the muscles around the back – hopefully reducing pain
- Injections of the facet or sacroiliac joints (if this is the cause of the back pain) can help reduce inflammation and therefore pain
- Surgery can be offered for some patients if the treatments above fail.
What are facet joint injections?
In some patients with chronic back pain, the facet joints are arthritic and can cause pain. The facet joints connect the bones of your back (vertebrae) together – but also allow them to move. The joints slide over each other as your back moves. In a healthy individual, this movement is aided by a smooth cartilage that acts to stop bone on bone rubbing (which causes pain). As we age this cartilage is worn down (wear and tear arthritis) bone begins to rub against bone resulting in significant pain. This process causes lots of inflammation which activates pain fibers that send signals to the brain – resulting in chronic pain.
A facet joint injection is a corticosteroid injection into the facet joints that reduce inflammation in the joint. The reduced inflammation means that pain fibers are less likely to transmit pain signals to the brain – therefore the patient should be pain-free!
What if my pain gets worse after the injection?
One question many patients ask is – what if my pain gets WORSE after a facet joint injection? This is a recognized side effect and as with any procedure, there are risks associated. Sometimes the injection can cause back muscles to spasm which can cause significant pain. However, this is usually temporary and will last a few hours – a few days before subsiding. If however you notice increased pain at the site of the injection a number of days after the procedure notify your doctor immediately as this may be a sign of infection.
Do you or somebody you know suffer from chronic back pain? Are you sick of having to rely on addictive medications like opioids to control your pain? If so – consider having a facet joint injection done at a specialist center in the United States.