A facet injection is a minimally invasive procedure that is administered to provide temporary relief of neck or back pain, which emanates from the facet joints. The injections are administered to the cervical (upper spine), thoracic (upper spine) or lumbar (lower spine) facet joints.
Facet joints are part of the spine. They provide stability and support, as well as the flexibility that enables the upper body to bend and twist. These joints are in pairs located at every level of the spine (except for the top of the cervical spine). They are surrounded by the facet joint capsule, which includes the protective fluid that helps to lubricate the joints.
A facet injection is comprised of both a local anesthetic and a long-lasting steroid medication. The drugs are targeted to the painful facet joint and are delivered either inside the joint capsule or in the tissue surrounding it. This mixture addresses pain relief and inflammation, as well as allowing more fluid movement of the neck and back.
In addition to providing pain relief, facet joint injections can achieve additional goals: They help to diagnose the cause and location of the pain.
Diagnostic goals: The injection can verify that the facet joint is the source of a patient’s pain. If the person experiences immediate pain relief, this is a sign that the facet joint is, in fact, the cause.
Pain relief goals: In addition to the anesthetic, a steroid injected into the facet joint reduces inflammation. The steroid can also potentially provide longer-term pain relief.
Millions of Americans suffer from facet joint pain. However, through accurate diagnosis and effective treatment methods, pain can be managed without surgery.
Those who suffer from facet joint pain and may benefit from injections include: