Thoracic Facet Injections

What is a Thoracic Facet Injection?

The facet joint is a thumbnail-size joint that is located in pairs between each bone of your spine. Lumbar facet injection is a procedure to diagnose or treat back pain from the facet joints. Anesthetic and steroid medications are injected into the joint. To ensure proper placement of the medication the procedure is done under fluoroscopy (a type of low dose X-ray).

What is the purpose of a Thoracic Facet Injection?

Facet joints can become painful and inflamed due to injury, arthritis, or other conditions. Steroid medication can reduce inflammation and pain.

How is the procedure performed?

After you check-in, you will be asked to put on a hospital gown and then lie on a stretcher in the holding room. A brief pre-procedure history will be taken and you will then be transported to the procedure room where you will be positioned on the X-ray table. After being positioned on the X-ray table, your skin will be cleaned with sterile soap. Anesthetic is injected to numb your skin and muscles over the spine. After this, fluoroscopy (X-ray) is used to guide a needle into the proper location, contrast dye is administered and then medication is slowly injected. After the test, you are taken to a recovery room where you'll need to rest for at least 30 minutes before going home.

The entire process for check-in, preparation, recovery, and checkout will take 1-2 hours. The procedure itself takes less than 15 minutes, however more time is spent in the procedure room for preparation. During the injection, pain is sometimes increased temporarily. The procedure can be stopped immediately at any time upon your request. Following the procedure you may experience some increased discomfort for about 2-3 days while the steroid medication is taking effect.

What are the risks associated with a Thoracic Facet Injection?

Every medical procedure, no matter how small, contains some risks. Anytime a needle is placed into your body there is a risk of tissue injury, infection, and bleeding. If this occurs in or near the spine it can result in nerve damage. Although extremely rare, severe nerve damage and death have occurred following spine injections. Injections near the spine also risk dural puncture and spinal headache. More common risks include a temporary increase in pain, local tenderness after the injection, allergic reaction to medication, and side effects from steroids.