What Are Facet Joint Injections?


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. Common causes of pain related to the facet joints include arthritis and back injuries.

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.

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.

After the initial anesthetic wears off and the steroid medication takes effect, long-lasting pain relief occurs. Facet joint injections are often used in conjunction with physical therapy to best rehabilitate an injury or improve symptoms of a health condition such as arthritis.