Chronic Illness Health

Facet Joint Injections


Hello lovely people who take  time out of their day to read….!

Three weeks ago to the day, I wrote a post, titled Confusion.
The very next day, I was to finally receive the long awaited Facet Joint injections into my Spine. It had been about 10 months from the surgeon prescribing them, to receiving funding and waiting on the list. 
I was trying to be so upbeat, but to be honest, I was really quite nervous. We / I / family / friends / people I met on the street, were all counting on these injections to perform the miracle of pain free living. I was trying not to put all my eggs in one basket but how could I not?
I had done my research (thank you google and Wikipedia, you truly reliable source of medical information) and had read on more than one specialist site that only 3, occasionally 4 Facet Joint injections were performed at a time, but I had been prescribed 6….
I arrived at the hospital, driven by my long suffering mum, at 8.45am. It had been an hours drive and so it meant an early and slightly tearful goodbye to my Bear. I hate leaving him so often for all these appointments but I really hope that we’re going to sort things out and it will only be maintenance appointments soon…
I entered a specialist unit where on this particular day of the week, back injections of various kinds, were performed. Mum couldn’t enter the ward with me and so took the opportunity to shop and I sat and waited.

Oh how comfortable the NHS chairs are. Not.
That isn’t even a picture of the waiting room I was in but it’s pretty similar. Good old NHS. We realky shouldn’t complain but the chairs really aren’t made for people who have back / hip / pelvic issues.
I was then taken to change into my lovely gown, shown a locker for my belongings and then asked if I’d brought a dressing gown and slippers. Well no! I hadn’t! Oh flip, that wasn’t on the list. Thankfully, the nurse gave me another gown to put on top, to protect my modesty. Oh. I was also given these….
Ha ha ha! This was it! If there was ever a time to meet a handsome, single male nurse or dr, this was surely going to be the day!
Next, it was into a ladies only waiting room (to stop us from exciting the gents with our paper knickers I suppose) and a bit of daytime tv to calm the nerves. 

I was the last to be called and so I amused myself by showing my emotions in a variety of selfies. You’re welcome.

Then it was me! Thank god I was going to have sedation and wouldn’t remember a thing if I was anything like my sister and having her wisdom teeth removed- a total blank. 
Er, no. I can remember everything.
First, they asked me to climb on to the table and then turn around / over and lay on my stomach. Brilliant! You do know I have a bad back, right?! That was the first hurdle. 
Next, the lovely kind anesthetist pumped drugs into the cannula in my hand and I floated away a little. 
‘Yes, fine’ I said as the surgeon said ‘you’ll feel some stings now, like a bee sting’. And then was quite fully aware of the fact that one bee sting night be ok, maybe two or three, but 6?! Ouch! That really did bloomin sting! However, I carried on floating as I’m hard and all (so hard that when offered the procedure without sedation I said ‘not on your nelly’) and after the appropriate amount of time, they started to insert the really long needles that would reach the facet joints. 
They insert the needles with the help of a Fluroscope which shows real time moving images in xray, to guide them to the correct joints. 
The joint is actually quite a small one. 
I felt the first 3, as in, I felt the pressure with slight discomfort but number 4 was quite painful and I began to breathe as though I were in labour. Big, deep breaths and trying to ‘blow the pain away’ (I learnt that in my hypnobirthing classes and although I never gave birth but had a c section, I’ve found the breathing very helpful in these painful situations!) Anyway, I digress, as always. 
So. Number 4. Felt it and was puffing away like Thomas the Tank Engine. 
The lovely kind anaesthetist came to my rescue again and said there was no point me being in so much pain and gave me another hit of ‘fly away with the fairies’ medication. 
I endured the final 2 and they were sore due to the thickness of the steroid that they inject, mixed with another anaesthetic. 


You can see the 6 black dots / scabs, where the injections were given. 


Please excuse the bottom cracker!


Bish, bash, bosh. Job done. 
I was wheeled into recovery and had a good chat to the nurse about sewing and how I hate knitting and can’t do it, but my mum can, and she tried to teach me….blah blah blah. I was high. 
I think I scored a 20 out of 20 for whatever I needed to score on and was taken to the ward. Where I promptly passed out. Goodnight and thank you. Zzzzzzzzz
I think there were two people in theatre after me. One by one, everyone was roused, given good old, cure all, nhs tea and toast, helped to their feet and sent home with someone to watch them for 24hrs. 
Me? I’m still asleep. I remember opening my eyes from time to time but that was that. 
I even tried to take some selfies for this very blog:


Have you seen the size of my tiny pupils?! I was gone.

In the end, they were getting ready for the afternoon list and my bed needing freeing up. 

I hauled myself up, drank my cold tea, ate my cold toast and with the help of mum, made it to the car but then that was that. I was out of it. This was Wednesday. On Thursday, I could hardly wake up. By Thursday afternoon, my arms and legs were fuzzy and in my mind, floating above the bed and I was slurring and not communicating my best!
The on call GP came out to see me and a very logical discussion went as follows;
I wear Fentanyl patches which are similar to morphine. I take codeine which your liver converts to morphine. I was given sedation medication. I had 6 local anaesthetic injections. I had 6 anaesthetic injections into my joints. 
I was basically a little bit too sedated. Just a little bit. Ooooops.
The quick and easy answer was to take one of my fentanyl patches off and slowly but surely, I began to come round but it took another day or so!
So. Three weeks on. My pain situation- baring on mind that I’m now taking less medication than ever…….I’m in much less pain!! Yay!!! Initially, I found my other aches and pains such as my hips and pelvis, to be overwhelming. It was strange. Once the back was taken out of the equation, I could really pin point my other pains. 
My back aches a little but it’s absolutely nothing compared to what I’m used to. It makes me so hopeful! These injections are not a cure and unlike other areas of the country where you can have them every few months as a painkilling option, this was my one off but the results will be used  diognosticly by the surgeon, to decide what treatment such as surgery, may benefit me, now that they may have pin pointed the source of pain. The pain will come back- it could be hours, days or months from now but for now- hurrah! 
The only things stopping me from dancing a jig is that immediately, as expected after the injections, I felt very weak. Unfortunately, I am still suffering from full body weakness which is seriously affecting my capabilities but that is improving everyday….I think..
My other news was the diagnosis of Seronegative Inflammatory Arthritis. Since then, I have started treatment but have since had to stop for a week.
I was started on a drug called Sulfasalazine / Azulfidine, 8 days ago. It’s a gradual increase dose, starting from 1 500mg tablet to day and each week, adding another tablet per day until week 4, where you stabilise at 4 tablets per day. It is a disease modifying treatment and fingers crossed it works. I am on pause at the moment however, to determin whether it is contributing to my extreme weakness.  Just as I should have been increasing for week 2, I spoke to the specialist nurses about my incredible weakness to see if they were aware of it being a side effect and so I have stopped the medication for one week to see if my energy increases when I don’t take it. 
Next week I will restart and see if I can ‘challenge myself’ (I read that as challenge my body and tolerance levels)  to the drug. Fingers crossed it works and my energy returns and stays.  
In the midst of all this, I turned 35 years old. My beautiful baby boy chose a Minnie Mouse cake for me and was so excited for me to blow the candles out. It was a short day as I slept a lot of it, played as much as I could and then promptly passed out for the night between blowing out the cake and dessert (my big sister had made gorgeous rhubarb Creme brûlée- sorry Rach x) approximately 10 minutes after this photo was taken! Oops. When I say I have been low on energy and exhausted, I mean it!

Thanks for reading


  1. So glad to read that your pain management is going well! Regarding those lovely knickers…..I had to have steroid injections into my hip joint (lovely hypermobility issue) when I was 22. The injection was right into the groin, administered by a lovely handsome male nurse! Typical. All dignity lost!
    Tash |

    1. Tash! Why have I only just seen this comment?! Poor you with the gorgeous male nurse! I have a similar story too! Thanks for your comment x

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