Dr. Howard Liss treats disorders that cause pain and disability by providing consultative services and soft tissue and joint injections when needed. When medically appropriate, he makes specific referrals for diagnostic testing (lab work, imaging, electrodiagnosis), physical and occupational therapy, interventional procedures (epidurals and facet joint injections), and surgery.
Located at each vertebral level, the facet joints offer stability and allow for movement and flexibility of the spine. Even so, a number of disabling back and neck problems stem from facet joint conditions. There may be symptoms resembling those of a herniated disc, fracture, torn muscle, cervical disorder or even abdominal problems. Inflammation, arthritis and degeneration of the facet joints can also result in pain in the neck, back and leg.
Considering several functioning systems, physiatrists are in the greatest position to identify, diagnose and coordinate treatment of facet conditions based on a patient’s medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests and other diagnostic methods. In some cases, the physiatrist may arrange for an interventionist to administer facet joint injections at specified levels to relieve back and neck pain associated with the facet joints.
As a minimally invasive procedure, facet joint injections contain a corticosteroid that works to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. In addition, a local anesthetic is included as part of treatment to ensure that patients receive a more comfortable injection that offers diagnostic information as well.
Non-surgical Treatment For Facet Joint Pain
Facet joint injections provide immediate pain relief and incorporate the use of x-ray guidance (including a small amount of x-ray dye) to ensure that the needle is placed correctly in the joint. While patients may feel a small amount of pressure during the procedure, a local anesthetic accompanies the steroid injection to eliminate pain or discomfort.
Patients are likely to experience some amount of pain after the anesthetic wears off. The steroid continues to work over the course of 2-3 days to reduce inflammation and provide longer-lasting relief.
While facet joint injections remain a specialized treatment suggested by physiatrists to relieve pain, they are often combined with other non-surgical treatments in a multifaceted approach. For instance, medication, physical therapy (including occupational and recreational therapy), massage therapy, orthotics (braces) or other modalities such as the use of ice and heat are considerations. The goal of physiatry is to maximize a patient’s level of functioning in all aspects of life.
If you are seeking relief from back or neck pain and you would like to avoid costly, run-of-the-mill testing and surgical intervention, contact the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute today.