Facet Joint Injections

Description

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 a six-month span. 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.

Indications

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

  • Post-laminectomy syndrome

  • Persistent low back pain after spinal fusion