Painful facet joints in your spine may be soothed by injecting a steroid medication into the affected joints, a procedure called facet joint injection. Facet joint injections can also help confirm a diagnosis of a facet joint dysfunction.
We recently added the Facet Joint Injections Procedure Video to our Spine-health Video Library to help you understand why your facet joints may be causing pain and how this procedure works to provide relief.
First, let's take a look at how your facet joints can become disordered and cause back pain.
In this image are 3 sets of paired facet joints, located in the back of the spine separating the vertebrae.
Healthy facet joints are important because they help support the spine and all the bending and twisting movements it performs.
Cartilage limits the friction on the opposing surfaces of the joints.
A synovial fluid-filled capsule also surrounds each facet joint, adding an additional lubricant to reduce friction as the 2 sides rub together.
To get started with this procedure, your physician will ask you to lie face down on a table.
Next, your doctor will treat the skin and tissue around the facet joint with a numbing agent.
Your physician will then guide a small needle into your facet joint, with the help of X-ray guidance, called fluoroscopy. He or she will inject a contrast dye into the joint to confirm the needle is correctly placed.
Once the needle is in the correct location, your doctor will begin to slowly inject a mixture of anesthetic, such as lidocaine, and anti-inflammatory medication, such as cortisone, into your joint.
If your facet joint was the source of your pain, you will notice immediate pain relief after the procedure is over.