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 anaesthetic 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  anaesthetic 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 anaesthetic 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? Our 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.