What is a facet joint?
Facet joints are the small joints along your spine that are responsible for flexibility and stability. When the facet joints are healthy, you will be able move without restriction. However, when these joints become inflamed or experience loss of cartilage, pain will ensue. This can be a result of arthritis, injury, pressure, or aging.
What is the benefit of facet joint injections?
The primary goal of facet joint injections is to reduce pain. This is done by injecting a mix of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medication directly into the facet joint. If the injection is successful, the patient should experience pain reduction and increased mobility.
A secondary benefit of facet joint injections is diagnostic eliminations. Some patients may not experience a decrease in joint pain after the injections. If this is the case, it is unlikely the problem is stemming from the facet joints. The patient should consult their doctor post-procedure to discuss the next steps.
The procedure typically takes between 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the number of injections needed, and is minimally invasive. Patients may feel some numbness or weakness in their back immediately following the procedure. A doctor may require the patient to rest in-office for a few minutes; otherwise, there is no recovery time.
Steps of Facet Joint Injections
- The patient begins lying face-down on the procedure table
- The injection site is cleansed and treated with a numbing agent
- X-ray imaging, otherwise known as fluoroscopy, is used for guidance as the physician places the needle into the facet joint
- Contrast dye is injected into the joint to ensure placement is correct and that the medication stays contained
- The anesthetic mixture is injected into the facet joint