Facet Joint Injection: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

A facet joint injection is a shot of medicine to help with pain from arthritis. The injection goes into your neck or back. Where you get your shot depends on where your pain is.

Facet joints connect your vertebrae to each other along the back of your spine. Problems in these joints can cause long-term (chronic) pain in the neck or back. Sometimes the pain is in the shoulders, arms, buttocks, or legs.

You may have numbness for a few hours. The numbness could be in your neck, back, arm or leg. It depends on which facet joint was treated.

You may feel pain relief right away. Sometimes the pain returns after the numbing medicine wears off. Your shot may also have included a steroid. Steroids take a few days to work. And they don't work for everyone.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • You may want to do less than normal for a few days. But you may also be able to return to your daily routine.
  • You may shower if your doctor okays it. Do not take a bath for the first 24 hours, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet.

Medicines

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Ice

  • If the site of your shot feels sore or tender, put ice or a cold pack on it for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You are unable to move an arm or a leg at all.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse symptoms in your arms, legs, chest, belly, or buttocks. Symptoms may include:
    • Numbness or tingling.
    • Weakness.
    • Pain.
  • You lose bladder or bowel control.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You are not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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