Facet Joint Injection
The facet joint is a small joint about the size of a finger joint that connects one spine vertebrae to the level above and below. The purpose of this joint is to help stabilize the spine and restrict motion to protect the spinal cord and nerve roots. Under normal circumstances, the joint does help distribute a small amount of the weight of the torso. Most of the weight of the torso is displaced by the discs between the vertebrae. When the spinal discs are damaged the facet joint begin to take on more of the weight of the torso. This often leads to degeneration of the facet joints and may be associated with pain that is located in the back and can refer away from the spine. Facet joint injections can provide pain relief when inflamed.
How is a facet joint injection performed?
The doctor will numb your neck or back with medication. Then, guided by an x-ray, he will:
- Insert a thin needle into your low back and look at the placement under x-ray
- Inject a steroid (for longer term relief), platelet rich plasma, or- if performing a block- numbing medication to temporarily block the nerve to the facet joint
Usually, the procedure takes less than 15 minutes and you can go home the same day.