The facet joints connect the bones of your spine, helping you twist and bend. They’re innervated with many spinal nerves, which is why they can cause serious neck and back pain, as well as sciatica, when damaged. Facet joint injections are chemical sensory nerve blocks that deliver medication directly to the joint to temporarily relieve pain and inflammation.
Who Can Benefit From Facet Joint Injections?
Pain management specialist Dr. Antigone Argyriou may perform diagnostic facet joint injections to determine the underlying cause of your pain. If you respond to the injections, it confirms that your joints are the source of the problem and allows her to create a long-term treatment plan. If you’ve already been diagnosed, she might also recommend facet injections for neck pain or back pain relief if other treatments like lifestyle modification or physical therapy weren’t effective.
What is the Facet Joint Injection Procedure Like?
When you visit our practice, Dr. Argyriou will perform an exam and ensure you’re a good candidate based on your health history and her findings. She will use fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance to visualize the joint during the procedure. She’ll then inject a mixture of anesthetic and cortisone into the joint.
Depending on how many joints she’s treating, the entire process takes about 15 minutes. If the facet joint is the cause of your pain, you’ll feel immediate relief.
Benefits of Facet Joint Injections
Facet joint injections contain an anesthetic and a steroid medication, so they provide both immediate relief and longer-term benefits.
The procedure is minimally invasive and safe. It can be combined with other conservative treatments as part of your larger treatment plan.
Provides Diagnostic Information
The injections are an effective way to confirm that your facet joint(s) is the source of your pain.
A spinal facet injection works by using an anesthetic to numb the painful joints. The injection also usually contains a steroid, which simultaneously reduces inflammation, further helping with pain relief and improving mobility.
It varies by patient, however, most people experience a reduction in pain for up to about three months. Depending on the case and situation, after the first injection, one or two additional injections might be needed over a six-month period for longer-term results.
No, facet joint injections are not really painful. Dr. Argyriou numbs the area with a local anesthetic first, so while you might feel a little pinch, you won’t feel much during the facet joint injection itself. Once the numbness wears off, you can have mild soreness around the injection site for a few days.
Facet injections and epidural steroid injections are not the same thing. Epidural steroid injections target the epidural space around the spinal cord, while facet injections administer the medication directly into the joint.