Facet Joint Injection for Chronic Pain Relief


What are facet joints?

Facet joints are small joints located between each vertebra of the spine. A pair of facet joints are located at the back of each spinal segment. These joints help support the spine and allow for range of motion.

What are facet joint injections?

During facet joint injections, a small amount of local anesthetic and steroid medication is injected into one or more facet joints. A local anesthetic provides immediate pain relief, while a steroid medication reduces inflammation and provides long-lasting pain relief.

Facet joint injections are typically given with X-ray guidance. After cleaning the skin and numbing the affected area, a few drops of contrast dye are injected into the skin. The contrast dye allows for detailed X-rays to ensure the injection is going directly into the facet joint. The medication is then injected.

Facet joint injections for chronic pain relief

A facet joint injection can also serve as a diagnostic tool. If pain relief is achieved after injecting anesthetic into a joint, it is a good indicator that the joint is the source of the pain. If the anesthetic does not relieve pain, a different source other than the facet joint may be the cause. Pain relief can last up to several months following a facet joint injection.

Facet joint injections are beneficial as a treatment option for various chronic pain conditions. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

Side effects

As with any medical procedure, potential side effects may occur. Although they are rare, side effects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Anxiety
  • Bleeding
  • Cataracts
  • Decreased bone density
  • Fluid retention
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Hip arthritis
  • Increased appetite
  • Infection
  • Injection site pain
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nerve damage
  • Temporary pain increase
  • Temporary vaginal spotting
  • Temporary facial flushing
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Swelling
  • Weight gain