Facet joint injections reduce pain and inflammation in back and neck
The facet joints are found along the spine from the neck to the lumbar (lower back) area, connecting the vertebrae of the spine to one another and helping to provide movement and stability. If the facet joints become inflamed due to an accident, arthritis or the normal stresses of aging on the spine, they can cause pain and irritation that spreads beyond the area of inflammation.
How facet joint injections work to reduce pain
A facet joint injection, also called a facet block because it’s intended to “block” the pain, begins with a numbing agent. During the procedure, your doctor numbs the skin and tissue above the facet joint with an injection of local anesthetic. An X-ray device called a fluoroscope helps the doctor guide the needle through the numbed tissue into the facet joint. Contrast dye is injected into the joint to confirm placement. Once the needle is positioned properly, a mixture of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroid medication is injected into one or more facet joints.
What to expect from facet joint injection procedure
This numbing and pain blocking can also help your doctor determine if the facet joint is, in fact, what’s causing your pain. Some people experience relief within a few days of receiving the injections. If you get relief from the injection, the facet joint is the likely cause of pain.
Other people get no relief at all from facet joint injections. If the facet joint injections don’t make a difference, there may be some other source of pain. Your doctor may also recommend additional injections. Up to three injections may be given per year to reduce pain and inflammation in the neck and back.