Do Facet Joint Injections Have Any Side Effects?


Many patients with chronic pain – especially in the neck and back – are finding pain relief with minimally invasive injection therapy.  The treatments offer a faster recovery time and quick orthopedic specialist Ocean Countyrelief from pain with up to several months of results.

Facet joint injections are an excellent treatment option for patients with chronic pain in the neck or back due to problems with the facet joints, or the small joints in each segment of the spine that help guide its motion and allow it to rotate.  Your orthopedic specialist Ocean County will numb the area with a gentle local anesthetic and inject an anti-inflammatory steroid medication directly into the facet joints causing your severe pain.  The procedure takes under an hour, and you will be able to go home that day.  Most experience results within 3-7 days of having facet joint injection NJ treatments, and your results could last up to several months.

Side effects of the treatment are very minimal in comparison with the pain and long recovery time associated with major surgery.  During the procedure, you may be slightly uncomfortable while your injections are being administered.  After the procedure, you may experience:

  • Numbness at the injection site for up to six hours after the injections.
  • Slightly worsened symptoms for a day or two following the injections, then significant relief as the treatment begins to work.
  • Less than 5% of patients could experience facial flushing, mild rises in body temperature, headaches, and bloating for 1-3 days following treatment.  These are all side effects of any steroid medication and are very uncommon with facet joint injections.

These side effects are all very mild, and the benefits of minimally invasive facet joint injections far outweigh the potential negatives.

This article has 37 comments

  1. Geoffrey Lummes 08/17/2012, 8:52 am:

    My wife Jean had eight facet joint injections three weeks ago and she is getting numbness and tingling down her right side and in her mouth. She had six injections about six months ago and everything worked well. But this time she is really feeling ill and worried. She said that the numbing injection really hurt and the eight injections that followed really hurt as well, it was as if the administer didn’t give the anesthetic time to work. We are going on holiday soon and we are concerned that the pain and numbness will not go by then.

    • RobynNazarRN 08/17/2012, 9:20 am:

      It is important for you to call your wife’s doctor and let him or her know about the symptoms that she is experiencing. Her doctor will be able to best assess whether or not these symptoms are a result of the injections and prescribe for her the best course of treatment. Good luck.

  2. jan steele 08/30/2012, 5:00 pm:

    I had injections under anaesthic 5 days ago for lower back and leg pain. The pain in my right leg is worse than ever.. There is no sign of pain reducing.

  3. jan steele 08/30/2012, 5:02 pm:

    I had injections in facet joints 5 days ago for lower back and leg pain. The pain is worse than ever in my leg which was in thigh are before but is now on lower leg as well. There is no sign of pain reducing even with pain killers

    • RobynNazarRN 08/31/2012, 10:16 am:

      It is important that you let your doctor know of the pain that you are experiencing. If your doctor is unavailable to see you, you can go to an urgent care clinic.

  4. semra ahmad 02/12/2013, 2:22 am:

    I had a facet injection done last week for my neck. My neck feels great but for some weird reason my knee caps and lower back hurt really bad, I have a following appointment with my doctor.

    • Marina 02/12/2013, 8:49 am:

      Semra, it’s great that you’ve taken the initiative to get a follow-up appointment with your doctor. It’s really important for patients to take an active role in their health and see their doctor whenever they’re having complications. Your doc will definitely have some advice/explanations for you.

  5. Judith McDonald 02/16/2013, 1:09 pm:

    I had 3 facet joint injections under general anaesthetic on 9th Feb, one week ago!

    I returned to work 36 hrs later, with slight soreness at the injection sites, but little else to complain of. I did have the usual facial flushing & headache, following injectable steroids, but the surgeon gave me only HALF doses in all 3 injcetions, to avoid this. I am an insulin dependent diabetic, so blood glucose levels go sky high for at least 5 days (18-26 mmol/L (have multiple injections of insulin to combat this, but still takes it’s time to run more normal levels)!

    Sadly, on that same morning at work, I had a bad fall across 2 plastic crates that had been left in a gangway, onto the floor. The same night,
    I suffered tightening top of R foot, and some pins & needles lower leg. This part of my foot, + lateral llower R leg has had loss of sensation, since my fusion L4/5 surgery in 2010. My ankle since that time has been weak, resulting in my having to be selective with my footwear . With the wrong boots or shoes, the ankle would give way whilst walking.

    Since this fall (which was coincidently, 36 hours post facet joint injections), the top of my R foot is feeling ‘tighter’, larger, with more extensive numbness (up to the toes now). I took a walk yesterday, in my ‘normal boots’ on FLAT ground, and my ankle gave way 6 times in during the 8 minute walk.

    I am very concerned that this worsening damage is permanent, just as the initial numbness/ankle weakness was, after my initial spinal surgery?

    I also would like to know, if possible, if thsi current complication id due to the facet joint injections, or more likely to be as the result of the fall? I rang the GP the morning after the fall, explained the foot tightening/increased numbness, but was told he did NOT need to see me. He said it was muscle sprain from my twisted fall, and advised pain relief

    Could you please give me any help regarding 1. cause of increased numbness or 2. cause of this?

    Many thanks

    Judith McDonald

    • RobynNazarRN 02/18/2013, 10:48 am:

      Hi Judith,
      If you wish to get a diagnosis for the numbness you are experiencing, the best idea is to see your G.P. They will take into account all your past history. If your G.P. is unavailable you should consider attending an emergency care clinic.
      I wish you all the best.

  6. Jodie hynd 03/04/2013, 6:15 am:

    I had 6 ingections nearly 7 weeks ago ive had no pain relief. And i have had a heavy menstral bleed ever since , the same happened. After i had spinal injections 18 months ago prior to having a disc removed , is the bleeding related to the injections as it has only ever happend following. Those were procedures.

    • RobynNazarRN 03/04/2013, 4:41 pm:

      Ask your doctor if your treatment isn’t working or if you’re having uncomfortable side effects like heavy bleeding.

  7. judy 03/28/2013, 9:53 pm:

    As a nurse practitioner who has participated in many facet injections, I have to say they they rarely work and they can be quite dangerous. Many back pain patients who are in agony are routinely refused safe and effective pain meds (Vicodin etc) and are coerced to endure painful, dangerous and useless facet injections just to make a buck for an unethical doctor. I have NEVER seen a facet injection help any patient

    • RobynNazarRN 03/29/2013, 10:29 am:

      Hi Judy,
      Facet injections are usually performed as a secondary treatment for chronic back pain. They are recommended after more conservative treatment – such as oral medications – have failed. The North American Spine Association, only suggests to consider this treatment if you have unresolved chronic back pain for 4-6 weeks. I am very sorry to hear you experienced patients receiving this treatment under coercion, this is considered mal-practice and unethical. Facet injection can benefit some patients, although, like any treatment, they will not work for everyone. Each patient should be assessed on an individual basis.
      Here is some more information from the North American Spine Association:

  8. maitland 04/09/2013, 2:19 pm:

    I just had six injections very recently due to my Juvenile Degenerate Disk disease and spinal stenosis. I’m experiencing major weakness in my legs and almost through my entire body, absolutely making me miserable. I didn’t know if this was a regular symptom from what I have read I’ve had the itching and nausea. Should I be worried about the weakness or just wait it out? Oh and something else of concern I’ve been experiencing major chest pain…it doesn’t last for very long but when it occurs it is super painful. Any input?

    • RobynNazarRN 04/10/2013, 10:09 am:

      I am so sorry to hear you are experiencing these symptoms. We cannot give out medical advice over the internet, your best choice would be to make an appointment with your healthcare provider to further investigate your symptoms. I wish you the best.

  9. tammy bailey 04/23/2013, 7:04 pm:

    I had 4 facet injections over a week ago. 8 days after the procedure, i experienced a severe migraine and called the doctor after I was made aware that one of my pupils even though it reacts to light is larger than the other. They assured me that these didnt cause this issue im not soo sure

    • RobynNazarRN 04/25/2013, 12:40 pm:

      Hi Tammy,
      I’m so sorry to hear that you experienced a migraine post your facet injections, no doubt it was painful. Physicians sometimes examine pupils as part of an assessment of neurological (brain) function. If you’re concerned about your pupils, make an appointment to see your physician, as they may need to examine you (and your pupil function) in person, not just over the phone.
      Best of Luck and I hope you feel better.

  10. Robin Carpente 05/17/2013, 8:41 pm:

    I had facet injections 10 days ago for low back pain related to arthritis.
    While there was some improvement in pain/stiffness on right side of lwer back I now have excruciating pain on left side including shooting pain down my left leg that leaves me in tears. My doc followed up with a prescription for an oral steroid, but there is no improvement and I am basically disabled. I can’t walk or stand for more than 10 minutes.
    I have follow up appointment on Monday. What questions do I ask?

    • RobynNazarRN 05/20/2013, 12:56 pm:

      Hi Robin,

      Sorry to hear that you are experiencing so much pain. What questions you should ask really depends on how the pain is affecting your everyday life. How has the pain affected your ability to sleep, eat, work etc? Once you have established this, you can develop questions to ask your doctor about what is their plan to manage your pain, so integral parts of your everyday life are not affected.
      Tip: It is also a good idea to write down your questions before seeing your doctor so you don’t forget to ask anything.
      Hope it all goes well.

  11. Woody 06/07/2013, 3:54 pm:

    it is a shame that there is only negative feedback, i have suffered with prolapsed discs for over a yr now and have been recommended after physio and acupuncture failed. These reviews are giving me second thoughts about having the operation soon, as to taking pain relief medication for however long a period on the left arm . anyway back on track, how many of these operations are done each yr and what % are deemed successful by patients not the administers

    • RobynNazarRN 06/10/2013, 1:35 pm:

      Hi Woody,
      If you’re concerned about facet joint injections, speck to your Doctor or Pain Specialist before going ahead with the treatment. They’ll be able to give you some more detailed information about success rates and answer any queries/concerns you may have.

  12. Barbara Celotto 07/14/2013, 9:36 am:

    I had a Facet injection to my right hip. I have had relief in that I can stand in the morning, however, I cannot bear weight on that leg, I have difficulty in walking and now sometimes the leg gives out. It feels as though the problem is in the groin upper thigh area. Do you think this is as a result of the Facet injection?

    Thank you,

    • RobynNazarRN 07/15/2013, 11:52 am:

      Hi Barbara,

      A facet joint injection shouldn’t affect your ability to walk/bear weight on your leg. You should make an appointment to see your Doctor who will be able to do a full assessment to find the cause of your problem.

  13. jo bennett 08/08/2013, 8:47 pm:

    It is after hours to call my doctor and I am concerned because i am having facial blushing the second day after a facet injection in my neck
    what should I do

  14. jo bennett 08/08/2013, 8:50 pm:

    facial blushing after second day of facet inj. in the neck—-is that a danderous reaction

    • RobynNazarRN 08/09/2013, 10:32 am:

      Hi Jo,
      Do you normally suffer from facial blushing? Facial blushing is a body response to some kind of strong emotion.
      I think you may mean that your having facial flushing . Facial flushing has many causes, both physical and psychological, such as rosacea, menopause, extreme emotions, hot and spicy foods, alcohol use, hay-fever and extreme changes in temperature.
      I’ve never heard that this is a symptom of a neck facet injection – but people’s bodies respond in different ways. If you’re concerned, go see your doctor, or if it’s after hours, go to an urgent care clinic.

  15. Terri Sutton 08/13/2013, 11:35 pm:

    My 4-step lumbar facet procedure was 20 months ago. Within 12 hours I had cherry red flushing from my chest up with light itching which lasted over a week. I also experienced severe palpitations that night and ringing of ears followed by a headache. I was sent to a cardiologist where my blood pressure was 235/115. Within 10 weeks I was in ICU for renal failure, arterial collapse, shock and nearly died. Numerous doctors and specialists are still trying to figure out why. Today
    I am about 65% recovered.

    • RobynNazarRN 08/14/2013, 11:13 am:

      Hi Terri. It sounds like your body had a strong reaction alright. Although reactions like your are rare, sometimes people’s bodies can react in unpredictable ways to medical treatments, that for others cause no side effects at all. Glad to see you’re making a recovery!

  16. jill lesley 08/17/2013, 2:44 am:

    I had diagnostic cervical facet injections at C3-C6 yesterday morning for the first time. One of the injections was quite painful and shot down my neck and into my shoulder blade area, along the nerve route. Afterwards I had numbness in my neck, the back of my shoulder/shoulder blade, and part of my face, which I’m assuming was because of the numbing medication that was injected.

    All of the numbness has since pretty much dissipated, except for along the route of the nerve that I felt so much pain with during the procedure (the back of my neck and down into my back/shoulder blade area). It is pretty much totally numb. Like can’t feel a pin prick numb.

    So my question is this, it has been more than 12 hours since the procedure, how long should the numbness last? Since its the weekend, it safe for me to wait until Monday to call the doctor or should I be concerned?

    Thank you for your advice.

    • RobynNazarRN 08/22/2013, 4:19 pm:

      Hi Jill, as we cannot give out advice like this online, the best idea if you’re concerned would be to see your doctor.

  17. Liz Barnett 08/30/2013, 10:04 pm:

    All of these remarks just confirm to me that these procedures do not work. I had them done a few years ago and got no results. If anything, I still have the same amount of pain, but now I have a dramatic increase in stiffness. So, I think the cervical facet injections made my neck worse.

    What worked for me was an increase in my pain medications, which is what I told the doctor I believed I needed anyway. But because prescribing me more medications doesn’t provide the doctor with a financial reward, he chose to do the injections.

    It’s sickening that doctors would perform a procedure that isn’t even FDA approved and has an average success rate of 10%. I took a risk, and it failed. I’m just thankful the outcome wasn’t worse.

    I say stay away from any doctor who wants to do injections of any kind. They get a huge amount of money for these procedures, so the only person they are helping is themselves. It’s like a used car salesman selling a car he knows doesn’t run.

    But sadly, more and more doctors in America care about making more and more money, not about improving a patient’s health.

  18. Jane Gadd 09/11/2013, 4:38 am:

    I had facet joint injections ten days ago….I have lost the use of my left leg, cannot feel mt buttocks and have a lot of numbness. I am really worried as I cannot walk have to crawl to the toilet and when I get there I struggle to go. Please advise me..I am going to see my pain consultant Friday. Thanks

    • RobynNazarRN 09/11/2013, 11:42 am:

      Hi Jane – This sounds quite severe. We don’t give medical advice out online, you should go see your physician. They’ll be able to assess in person what’s causing your numbness and decrease in mobility, as well as determining if it’s related to your facet joint injections.
      I wish you the best.

  19. Shelly 09/15/2013, 11:28 am:

    I had facet joint injection 3 days agao. Still having bad headache. What are some home remedies to alleve the pain? I’m taking hydocodone 10.325 and it is not helping the headache at all.

    • RobynNazarRN 09/16/2013, 9:12 am:

      One of the side effects that may present after getting a facet joint injection is a headache. However, if it persists it may be a good idea to make an appointment with your physician.

  20. Betty 10/23/2013, 9:42 am:

    I’m due to have facet joint injections to the lower lumbar region shortly but after reading the comments here I’m feeling quite worried about it and wonder if I should go ahead (I’m in the UK). I appreciate they won’t work for everyone, but some of the stories on this blog are quite terrifying. I discussed the pros and cons of having these injections with the consultant and he said there are no guarantees that you won’t have any side effects, but that the injections (if kept to the legal doses) are quite safe.

    Any comments gratefully received.

    • RobynNazarRN 10/31/2013, 10:42 am:

      Hi Betty,

      Every medical procedure has a degree of risk associated with it. If you’re concerned, be sure to talk about the treatment with your doctor before making a decision.

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