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.



    • 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.


      • 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.


    • 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


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