Facet injections are injections that treat pain and inflammation to the joints of the vertebrae in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. They are used to diagnose and treat pain stemming from the facet joints themselves by administering steroid and/or anesthetic medication directly into the joint capsule.
How Does It Work?
Facet joints are surrounded by a joint capsule made up of synovial membrane tissue. This joint capsule contains a rich innervation of nerves and its upper pad is typically fused with the fatty sheath of the spinal nerve. When the synovial membrane tissue of the joint capsule is inflamed, facet joint injections may:
- Inhibit the production of inflammatory chemicals, reducing pain and/or
- Make pain receptors less sensitive, therefore sending fewer pain signals through the nerves.
Prior to the injection, the patient is sterilely prepped and draped. The skin over the treatment site is cleansed and numbed by injecting a local anesthetic. Injections are guided under fluoroscopy (continuous x-ray imaging) and contrast is administered to confirm placement. Lastly, steroid is injected to the facet joint capsule, delivering pain-relieving medication (steroid and anesthetic) directly to the site of inflammation.