What Is a Facet Joint Injection?

The facet joints are small joints located in sets of two (one on each side) on every vertebra in the spine. They give the spine motion and provide stability. Due to the important roles they play, however, these joints may result in pain from conditions such as arthritis, trauma or undue stress on the back.

A facet joint injection (also known as a facet block) is a minimally invasive procedure designed to relieve pain by injecting a small amount of medication directly into the joint.

Facet joint injections typically have two goals:

  1. Aiding in a diagnosis: By numbing the joint, a physician is able to confirm or rule out the facet joint as the source of the pain
  2. Providing pain relief: In addition to adding a numbing medication to the joint, the procedure also includes the injection of cortisone, a time-released steroid that reduces inflammation and may offer long-term pain relief

What Can Be Expected During a Facet Joint Injection?

Facet joint injections are typically performed in an outpatient setting at an ambulatory surgery center or in-office. Taking between 15 and 30 minutes, the procedure includes:

  1. Numbing the area with anesthetic (numbing medication) prior to the injection
  2. Utilizing fluoroscopy (live X-ray guidance) to direct the needle to the joint
  3. Injecting dye to confirm the needle is in place
  4. Injecting the mixture of anesthetic and cortisone slowly into the joint

What Can Be Expected Following a Facet Joint Injection?

After the procedure, patients will wait in the recovery area (or office) for a period of time—typically 20 to 30 minutes—and then will be asked to perform movements that would normally result in pain.

Patients should avoid driving or any strenuous activity until further instructed by the physician. If the facet joint injection was performed to diagnose a condition, pain medication should be avoided four to six hours following the procedure.

Complete Spine Care

At IGEA Brain & Spine, our surgeons specialize in facet joint injections for patients living with facet joint-related conditions. Utilizing the latest tools and techniques, our specialists provide a superior quality of care for this and other spine, brain and neuroendovascular conditions.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.