A facet joint injection is a treatment for facet joint syndrome.
Facet joint syndrome is a condition where the spine’s facet joints become irritated and inflamed from injury or arthritis. Depending on which facet joints are impacted, it may result in pain radiating from the spine into the buttocks, hip, and back of the thigh or radiating from the spine into your neck, head, and shoulders.
A facet joint injection, also known as a facet joint block, is the injection of local anesthetic and steroid medication into the facet joint. The injection is done to decrease the inflammation and irritation in the facet joint, reducing the pain from facet joint syndrome.
What to Expect
The facet joint injection procedure is done under fluoroscopy (X-ray) guidance with the patient lying on their stomach. The back is first numbed with injections of a local anesthetic. Using fluoroscopic guidance, a local anesthetic medication, with or without steroids, is injected into the problem facet joint(s) along the spine.
Pain may improve immediately after the injection as a result of the local anesthetic. The local anesthetic or numbing medication will wear off approximately six hours after the injection. Pain may then briefly return before the steroid medication takes effect. The steroid or anti-inflammatory medication may not start working for 24 to 72 hours.
Sometimes it can take up to one week for the steroid to work or take effect. This facet joint injection can last anywhere from weeks to months. If the injection results provide adequate, lasting pain relief, then the facet joint injection may be repeated.
However, if only short-term pain relief is achieved with a facet joint injection, then additional procedures may be appropriate to be considered, including a medial branch nerve block test.