The facet joint is located in spine between vertebrae and helps stabilize the spine to prevent excessive, irregular motion. Damage or inflammation of the facet joint can occur from normal wear and tear, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis or other spinal injuries.
When the facet joint becomes inflamed, stiff or swollen, the surrounding cartilage can be worn away causing the vertebral bones to rub together. When bone to bone friction occurs, bone overgrowth or bone spurs may appear around the edges of the joint. Your doctor at South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine will begin using conservative methods such as rest, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy to alleviate joint pain. If these treatment techniques are unsuccessful, face injection will be proposed.
A majority of patients report significant improvements in pain following face injection.
What is a Facet Injection?
Each vertebra has four facet joints: two at the top and two at the bottom of the bone. In order to prevent bone-on-bone rubbing, the joints are covered by cartilage and surrounded by lubricating tissue. The facet joint aids in the spine’s twisting and bending motions. The location of the injection will be determined based on where the patient is experiencing pain. Both cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) facet injections are used to relieve pain and discomfort.
Your doctor will position your body face down and the injection site will be numbed. A needle is used to guide a small x-ray instrument called a fluoroscope into the joint and contrast dye may be injected to further improve the accuracy of the procedure. With the precision provided by the fluoroscope, a small needle is used to slowly inject a combination of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medication directly into the joint.
Results and Recovery
Facet injections may be used to diagnose the location of pain in the spine. If face injections are unsuccessful at relieving pain, the source of the damage may be occurring in a different region of the spine. Your doctor may recommend one to three facet injection treatments to treat the damaged joint. If the procedure is unsuccessful, other treatments such as spinal fusion or herniated disc removal may be recommended. A majority of patients experience pain relief and improved healing conditions in the spine thanks to facet injection treatment.