DIAGNOSTIC LUMBAR FACET JOINT INJECTION

A Diagnostic Lumbar Facet Joint Injection by Dr Charles Gauci, Pain Clinic UK

YOU MUST ALWAYS ARRANGE FOR SOMEONE TO ACCOMPANY YOU FROM HOSPITAL AFTER THE PROCEDURE AND TO BE AVAILABLE FOR YOUR CARE FOR 24 HOURS AFTERWARDS

  • Morning appointment - you may have an early hot drink
  • Afternoon appointment - you may have breakfast

Patient information leaflet no. 19

Diagnostic Lumbar Facet Joint Injections

Following your consultation at the pain clinic, it is my clinical impression that your pain could be arising from certain tiny joints in your lower spine called the facet joints. We now want to confirm whether this is so. This involves a simple injection of local anaesthetic.

Please note that this diagnostic injection if it works, only works for a very short time (about one hour); it is not a treatment for your pain, only a test. Just because the pain returns soon after does NOT mean that the injection has not worked!

The procedure takes about 10 minutes; you will then be examined about 20 minutes later to see if the injection has worked.

If it has, I will then discuss with you the next phase of your treatment; this may be a local anaesthetic/steroid injection or a procedure called Radiofrequency Facet Joint Denervation.

You will be awake throughout the procedure. Since it involves inserting a needle through skin and deeper tissues, some discomfort is inevitable; however, the doctor will numb the skin and deeper tissues with a local anaesthetic prior to inserting the needle into the facet joints. The procedure is done under x-ray guidance so as to increase its accuracy. I also inject a radio-opaque dye.

It is very important to tell me if you are allergic to Iodine or to seafood, as in these cases, it would be safer not to inject the dye.

During the procedure you may feel some slight pressure or discomfort. I will be interested in how this discomfort compares to your usual pain symptoms.

Due to the effects of certain medications, your driving reflexes may be impaired. Consequently, you will need someone to drive you home after your injection.

  • If you are on specific blood thinning medications (e.g. Warfarin or Plavix), Aspirin or Anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen, Diclofenac) you should ensure that you let my secretary know as soon as possible on 020 8504 4816

Possible complications include infection; you may experience some numbness in your legs; this is temporary and totally harmless.