A facet joint injection is a relatively simple, straightforward procedure, and is usually performed in an office-based procedure suite or in an ambulatory surgical center.
Facet joint pain occurs when one or more of the facet joints in your neck or back become irritated and swollen. During a facet joint injection procedure, medication is injected into the facet joint space. The duration of bone and joint pain relief will vary depending on the medications used during the facet joint injection procedure. The facet joint injection procedure is typically performed as a test injection and can provide several hours of pain relief. It is also possible that you will receive this facet joint injection procedure for prolonged relief. You will need to discuss the facet joint injection procedure options with your physician. Although rare, risks of the facet joint injection procedure may include infection, allergic reaction to the medications and nerve damage.
As with many spinal injections, facet joint injections are best performed using fluoroscopy (live X-ray) for guidance to properly target and place the needle (and to help avoid nerve injury or another injury).
The Facet Injection-
The injection procedure includes the following steps:
A. The patient lies on a procedure table, and the skin over the area to be tested is well cleansed.
B. The physician treats a small area of skin with numbing medicine (anesthetic), which may sting for a few seconds.
C. The physician uses X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy) to direct a very small needle into the facet joint.
D. A small amount of contrast dye is then injected to confirm that the needle is in the joint and that medication is contained inside the joint.
E. Following this confirmation, a small mixture of anesthetic (such as lidocaine) and anti-inflammatory medication (steroid/cortisone) is then slowly injected into the joint.
The injection itself only takes a few minutes, but the entire procedure usually takes between fifteen and thirty minutes.