Facet joint injections are used for diagnostic purposes and for pain relief. Your facet joints exist to provide stability and flexibility to the spine and are located between each of the vertebrae.
Facet joint injections may be used in cases of:
- Facet syndrome (when one or more facet joints become inflamed)
- Spinal arthritis
- Spine trauma
- Degenerative disease of the spine
How it Works
The injection takes about 10 to 20 minutes. X-ray guidance is used to target specific joints and to guide the needle. The injection itself consists of a local anesthetic and a non-inflammatory corticosteroid medication.
In addition to providing pain relief, facet joint injections are also utilized as a diagnostic tool to confirm facet syndrome as a cause of pain. If the injection is successful, it tells your doctor that the particular targeted facet joint is the cause of your pain.
What to Expect
You will experience immediate relief due to the local anesthetic that is used, and more long term relief from the corticosteroid within the next three to five days. The relief lasts approximately three to six months. Repeat injections are possible, but not always needed. Most patients only need one or two facet joint injections for relief, but you might be able to receive three in a six month period.
You may have some soreness at the injection site for a couple of days. Minor side effects, like sweating and itching, are only temporary, while serious side effects are rare. You will likely be able to go back to work and resume your normal activities the next day.