#Spoonie, arthritis, Back Pain, Backcare, CHRONIC PAIN, DRUGS, facet joint syndrome, FIBROMYALGIA, HEALTH, low back pain, pain, pain relief, X RAYS


Today I had my third lot of facet joint injections on the NHS at the Circle Nottingham Hospital. For me personally these injections (I have one in both sides of my spine) have been the most effective pain relief I have ever had.

For the first time in many years I have been back in control of my pain and I had reduced my Tramadol right down to taking it ‘only‘ on my bad days instead of taking it on slow release. While slowly cutting down on my Tramadol I started to feel quite different in myself without the awful side effects of the opioids.

Painkiller addiction is an increasing problem in our society, and it’s certainly receiving more media attention than ever before. There’s a lack of understanding about the dangers of prescription painkillers—opioid drugs that are both extremely powerful and addictive. Long-term addiction is usually preceded by tolerance to the drug, which means you feel as though you need a regular supply of them.

The reason I wanted to cut down on my Tramadol was to prepare myself for my Cubital Tunnel Operation. A few years ago I was unexpectedly faced with awful pain after foot surgery and was told I could not have any more pain relief due to what I was already taking. Tramadol is routinely prescribed after major surgeries so I told myself if I ever needed surgery again I would make sure I had cut down on my medication prior to the surgery.

I have struggled over the last few weeks as my facet joint injections were due but they were put on hold for six weeks due to my elbow surgery so today could not have come soon enough. I’ve had the same compassionate pain consultant who has looked after me for a number of years and who has tried everything available to help me with my chronic pain.

Before I signed the consent form he informed me that due to the cost of facet joint injections they were being cut right back and may not be available in the future.  He assured me I would still be having some today and that he would put me down for another set in four months but pointed out that he would have to put a case together in order to hopefully get the all clear to carry on giving me these injections.

I was bitterly disappointed that there was a possibility of these being stopped. When I told my husband about it on our way home he told me to try and find out how much these would cost if we went privately to have them done.

I was quite shocked at what I found out which in our area were roughly about £1,145 – £1,500 (each) and I have two of these. I then realised that it’s not just the injection that I would be paying for as I need the use of the Xray department for these and so a radiologist is required, plus two nurses and of course my consultant.

It’s not until you encounter something like this that you appreciate just how lucky we are to have the availability of the NHS in the UK. We just arrive, have the treatment and follow their advice and hopefully get the benefit but you can see why they are now having to question who should be the ones that can have this treatment and who are the ones that cannot. I guess I will just have to hope that my case is one they sympathize with and continue letting me have them otherwise I guess I will be back on the opioid route again.


    1. I agree Susan but when you have a chronic condition that needs more than how you sit and sleep then an alternative route has to be taken. 🙂


    2. Partially true. However, for many people again, previous back trauma and congenital conditions can cause back pain regardless of good posture. Some people have conditions like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which leads to mechanical dysfunction and subsequently will require SI or facet joint injections, or even epidurals, just so they can have an opportunity to attempt good posture. Having a good relationship with Physiatrist, which is a medical doctor specializing in rehabilitation and correcting hip, spine, shoulder and neck dysfunction WITHOUT surgery, is essential for anyone with the slightest pain in those regions. Many people allow their conditions to go undetected and untreated, by either doing nothing or only seeing a chiropractor.


      1. Thank you for that information Edward. I definitely am in the category of previous back trauma and congenital conditions and four failed back surgeries and although I have an amazing pain team the injections have been cut due to funds so I shall just have to wait and see what they can now offer me.


  1. Hi Barbara,
    I have had two cortisone epidurals in my lower back – these helped me enormously. While they were extremely unpleasant at the time, they did provide some much needed relief. I was also finding, as you have suggested that you did too, that the regular drugs/tablets were messing with my sleep, which in turn was affecting my body in negative ways. Ongoing pain, combined with little or no sleep is not fun.
    Here in Australia, our system is not quite as fantastic as your NHS, but it’s certainly much better that the American system. With the benefit of my private health insurance, my two epidural spinal injections cost me almost nothing. I suspect it would cost close to a thousand dollars without the private health insurance.
    I hope yours works out well. Mine certainly helped a great deal, which has allowed for some much needed sleep and I am well and truly on the mend.


    1. Hi Matthew, thanks for you comment. Glad to hear they are working for you so well. It’s a case of pacing yourself to get the best out of the injections which sometimes can be quite tricky when you are in a lot less pain. I don’t know about you but when I’m good I tend to go a bit mad doing things that I struggle with when going through a bad patch. Nature soon makes you forget how awful the pain was before the injections. Take care. Barbara


  2. I agree with you Barbara. I have had six monthly facet joint and caudal epidural injections on the NHS for seven years for many years of chronic back pain which also involves leg pain. I was getting them twice a year and really got good welcome relief for up to three months, so looked forward to each procedure which made me feel much more motivated, able to go about my everyday life with much more ease and enthusiasm. With the latest cut backs on these injections, I was discharged from the Pain Service in my area and told to go to Aquatics and use a TENS machine (I had already used a TENS before but bought a new one). The aquatic exercises in water were not a problem but on the three occasions I attended, I could hardly walk when I got out of the water and feeling that this was detrimental to my well being, I didn’t go again. I have now been re-referred back to the Pain Service and have received a six page questionnaire (bearing in mind that I was under their care for seven years previously) and after several weeks am now waiting to see one of their consultants (of which they only have two. I feel it must be cost-effective to experience relief for six months out of a year. I do know people for whom the injections do not work – so don’t offer them to those people. All this seems to me to be a ludicrous situation I find myself in and such a waste of resources and unnecessary time wasted having to be re-referred back to the same service. I realise they must be inundated with referrals but just like you, I think we are deserving of the benefits that these injections can give us and make our quality of life much more bearable. Like you, I do tend to go over the top with activity when I am free of pain, though have to pace myself but now without injections for over a year, I am just praying that they will consider re-starting these injections. The cause of my pain is obvious as I have a scoliosis, have had a spinal fusion nearly 40 years ago and have OA of the facet joints.


    1. Pat, I don’t know how I missed your post reply. I hope you are getting sorted now. There is a new Care in the Community in the NHS which is being set up to care for people with chronic pain. They call it PICS. Have a look if it’s available in your area, it could be a real help with your pain. Take care and apologies for late reply x


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