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Facet Joint Injections

Relief from Joint Pain and Inflammation in the Neck and Back

Facts and Information

The facet joints are found in the spine, where they connect the backbones to each other. They allow the spine to bend and twist. Like a knee or hip, facet joints have cartilage between the bones and a fluid-filled capsule to allow for smooth movement. When damaged, facet joints can cause debilitating pain in the neck or back. This condition is known as Facet Syndrome. It may occur due to an injury, overuse, or the onset of an inflammatory condition.

To read more about Facet Syndrome, click here.

When is a Facet Joint Injection Done?

A facet joint injection is performed to treat neck and back pain in combination with other non-surgical spine treatments like rest, medications, chiropractic manipulations, and physical therapy.

It is one of two types of injections that treat pain arising from the joints of the spine:

  • Facet joint injections - place medication directly into the joint.
  • Medial branch blocks (MBBs) - stop the transmission of pain signals by targeting the nerves along the facet joint.

To read more about MBBs, click here.

These injections are used to treat pain and to identify the painful joint(s). If an injection successfully treats the pain, it will confirm that a particular facet joint is causing the pain problem.

How Often Should a Facet Joint Injection be Done?

This treatment does not offer permanent pain relief. Patients may have one or two repeat injections over a six-month period. It is not recommended that a patient receive more than three injections in this time frame.

How is a Facet Joint injection Done?

In order to guide the injection to the facet joint, your pain specialist will use fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance during the injection. This will allow the physician to see the joint and ensure that the needle is in place before injecting the anesthetic-cortisone mixture. The procedure takes between 5-15 minutes. Thanks to the anesthetic used, the injection can provide immediate pain relief.

What are the Expected Results?

Facet joint injections are safe, non-surgical procedures that can provide long-term pain relief. Results vary between patients, but an effective joint treatments provides several months of pain relief.

Is There a Longer Lasting Treatment?

If a facet joint injection yields good results, a longer lasting pain relief procedure is available. A radio frequency neurotomy uses heat from radio frequency waves to “turn off” pain signals from the specific medial branch nerve that is transmitting the pain signal from the joint.

To read more about this procedure, click here.

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