Cervical Facet Joint Injection
A cervical facet joint injection is a procedure used to inject a small amount of local anesthetic (numbing medicine) and steroid medication to relieve and block pain coming from the facet joints in your neck. The facet joints can become painful due to facet joint syndrome, caused by repetitive movement, injury, or mechanical stress on your neck and shoulders.
The facet joints are small bone joints in your cervical spine that allow you to move and turn your neck and provide stability. The facet joints are a pair of joints on both sides of your spine from your neck to your lower back. These joints are made up of cartilage (cushioning tissue between the bone) and a surrounding capsule that contains synovial fluid, which lubricates and allows the joints to function.
The cervical facet joint injection is used to not only relieve pain but also to allow patients to tolerate physical therapy better and rehabilitate their neck injury. There are two goals for cervical facet joint injections, to provide pain relief and help diagnose the location and cause of the pain.
- Pain Relief – Steroid and numbing medication are injected into the cervical facet joints to reduce inflammation, which can often provide long-term pain relief.
- Diagnostic – If the injection provides some immediate pain relief for the patient it would indicate that the joint is the source of pain. The injection can also predict results for interventional pain management procedures or spine surgery to further enhance pain relief for the patient.
Are You A Candidate For A Cervical Facet Joint Injection?
Patients who are suffering from neck and shoulder pain that stems from the cervical facet joints may be good candidates for a cervical facet joint injection. If patients suffer in pain and have failed conservative treatment options: such as over the counter anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy, injections may provide temporary or even long-term relief.
What Happens During A Cervical Facet Joint Injection?
Injections are administered at the doctor’s office or a surgical center. The procedure is outpatient, least invasive, and takes about 15-30 minutes. Patients are given conscious sedation or local skin numbing to be comfortable during the procedure. The patient will lie down on the procedure table and the area to be treated will be cleaned, and local anesthetic injected. Using fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray), the doctor will confirm and guide their needle to the affected facet joint to deliver the steroid and numbing medication.
What Should You Expect After A Cervical Facet Joint Injection?
Soreness can be expected around the skin injection site for a few hours. You are encouraged to move your neck around to determine the amount of relief provided by the injection. Most routine activities and work can be resumed the following day. Pain relief from the cervical facet joint typically begins shortly after the procedure, and the duration of pain relief is variable and depends on the severity of the spinal condition.