Facet Joint Injections

The facet joints, which are 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 but it also can 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. 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 injection causes the pain to subside, the physician may determine that the facet joint (or joints) that was injected was the cause of pain. Back or neck pain may disappear immediately after a successful injection because of the anesthetic that was administered. As this anesthetic wears off, pain may return, but 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. Your PCA physician will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan.