Epidural & Facet Injections

What should you know about... Epidural & Facet Injections

You and  your  physician  have decided  that  you will receive an epidural or facet injection.

The following are basic questions and answers concerning this type of therapy:

What are epidural and facet injections?
An epidural  injection  is usually  performed 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 or nerve between the vertebra in the spine. Facet injections may be done  for painful  arthritis of the spine and spinal stenosis.

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  anesthetic and steroid. Steroids are the most  potent anti-inflammatory medications  available,   and   are  very   useful  in treating pain.

Is the injection  painful?
No. Your doctor is a trained  anesthesiologist and uses  local  anesthetic  to   numb  the  area  first. Occasionally he may use mild sedation in a  hospital, outpatient surgical center or office.

How many injections are needed?
Usually not more than  3-4 in a 6 month period. However, this varies with each  patient.

Are these procedures safe?
Yes. The  most  common concerns are  with  side effects of  the  medications used. These are  rare and usually transient. Your doctor will discuss them with  you in detail  prior to the procedure.

Can I drive afterwards?
No. The  local  anesthetic  used may  cause  transient  numbness or weakness  in  the legs or arms which could affect your ability  to drive.

What if the procedure does not work?
A board-certified pain specialist  can  treat   your   pain  with many different modalities.  A combination of procedures, some  more advanced, together  with medication and physical therapy usually provide relief of pain.