The facet joints, found on both sides of the back of the spine, can become painfully irritated or inflamed. A facet joint injection may help diagnose the source of a patient’s pain. It can also relieve pain and inflammation.
In preparation for the procedure, the physician
numbs the skin and tissue above the facet joint with
an injection of local anesthetic.
With the aid of an x-ray device called a fluoroscope,
the physician guides a needle through the numbed
tissue and into the facet joint. Contrast dye is
injected into the joint to confirm the needle’s
Once the needle is positioned properly, the
physician injects a soothing mixture of numbing
anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroid
medication. One or more facet joints may be
treated. If this causes the pain to subside, it
suggests that the facet joint (or joints) injected were
the cause of pain.
End of Procedure
Back or neck pain may disappear immediately after
a successful injection because of the anesthetic
that is administered. As this anesthetic wears off,
pain may return. The steroid will begin to take effect
in the days after the injection. The steroid will
reduce inflammation and pain. The injection can
provide relief for a span ranging from several days
to several months. Up to three injections may be
given per year.