A facet joint injection is a relatively simple, straightforward procedure performed in an office-based practice in 20 to 30 minutes. The injection provides rapid and long-lasting pain relief from facet joint pain. Facet joints are located in the spine and can result in debilitating back pain when damaged.
The procedure includes the following steps:
The procedure is commonly performed without any sedation, however, an IV line may be used as needed
The patient lies on a procedure table and the skin over the target area is sanitized
The physician treats a small area with an anesthetic
X-ray guidance is used to direct a small needle into the facet joint
A small amount of contrast dye is injected to confirm the needle is accurately placed
A small mixture of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medications (steroid/cortisone) is slowly injected
Although results vary between patients, pain relief may last several months. Most patients only require one or two injections in six months. It is never recommended to receive more than three injections in that time frame. The procedure can also be combined with radiofrequency neurotomy for more prolonged pain relief.
Facet joint injections are one of the most frequently performed spinal interventional procedures. It may be used to diagnose and treat radicular pain syndrome and facet syndrome. Indications for facet joint injections include:
A strong clinical suspicion of facet syndrome
Tenderness over the facet joints
Low back pain with normal imaging findings
Persistent low back pain after spinal fusion