Introduction

Facet injections are non-surgical treatments to relieve pain and inflammation of the facet joints in the spine.  Facet joints are located on the top and bottom of each vertebra.  Facet joints connect the vertebrae to form the spine and allow back motion.  Facet injections target pain coming from the facet joints.  The treatments can help relieve pain in your neck, low back, and legs.

Facet pain and inflammation can be caused by spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, sciatica, arthritis, and herniated disc.  You may be a candidate for facet injections if you have spine-related pain that is not relieved by conservative treatments.  Facet injection treatments involve injecting the facet joint capsule or surrounding tissue with corticosteroid and anesthetic medication.  Facet injections can also be used for diagnostic purposes to determine if the cause of your pain is actually coming from your facet joint.

Treatment

Your doctor can provide facet joint injections as an outpatient procedure.  The treatment usually requires the use of fluoroscopy, and thus can be done in a doctor’s office, an outpatient center, or a hospital.  You should have another person drive you to and from the facility on the day of your facet injection.

You will wear an examination gown for your facet injection procedure.  You will lie face down on the exam table.  The injection site will be sterilized and numbed.  You may be sedated or awake for the procedure.

Your doctor will use a C-arm fluoroscope, an imaging device, to guide the placement of the injection.  Your doctor will inject the medication into your facet joint capsule.  You will be able to walk immediately following the procedure, but you should take it easy for the next few days.

Facet injections are effective in about 50% of people that receive them.  Treatments can provide symptom relief for several days to months.  If facet injections are successful for you, the procedure can be repeated up to three times per year.