What are Cervical Facet joints?

Cervical facet joints are small pairs of joints found on the back/side of your neck. They work to the effect that they provide stability and at the same time guide motion in your spine.

Are Facet joint injections important?

Pain in the joints can subsequently result in pain elsewhere. This is especially true where your joints become painful due to arthritis, mechanical stress or injury, thereby leading to resultant pain elsewhere. The cervical facet joints can cause pain in your head, neck, shoulder or even your arm.

A facet joint injection is, therefore, imperative in several ways, including diagnosing the cause and location of the pain and providing pain relief.

Diagnostic goals: By placing numbing medicine into the facet joint, the amount of immediate pain relief you experience will help confirm or deny the joint as a source of pain. Simply put, complete relief of your pain while the facet joints are numb leads to the conclusion that those joints are highly likely to be the source of pain.

Pain relief goals: A facet joint injection coupled with time-release cortisone is injected into the joints to reduce inflammation. Essentially, this helps provide you with long-term pain relief.

What happens during the procedure?

  • An IV line is started to ensure adequate relaxation medicine is given if needed.
  • Your body is placed over either an injury, arthritis or mechanical table. This is done in order to cleanse the skin over the area of the spine to be treated. 
  • Next, your physician proceeds to inject a small quantity of numbing agent(anesthetic) whose purpose is to anesthetize the facet joints and subsequently block the pain. 
  • The physician uses the help of an x-ray (fluoroscopy) to direct a very small needle into the facet joint.
  •  Also, a small amount of contrast dye is injected to ensure that the needle is in the joint and medication inside the joint.
  • After this confirmation, a small mixture of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medication(cortisone) is slowly injected into the joint.

Is the Facet Injection painful?

Typically, a facet joint injection is a routine procedure that is easily tolerated. However, you may experience some sting at the beginning of the procedure during the injection of the numbing medicine, which indicates that the medicine has reached the right spot.

How will I feel After the Procedure?

Normally, after the procedure, you may end up experiencing slight weakness for a few hours. Your pain may also increase due to the wearing off of the numbing medicine as the cortisone becomes effective. You can alleviate this with the help of ice, especially during the first 2-3 days after injection.

An improvement occasioned by pain relief is noticeable 2-5 days after the injection. However, if you don’t notice any improvement within ten days after the injection, it is imperative to consult your physician.

It would help if you undertook regular exercise once you notice the pain is improved. The exercise helps in moderation.

Are there Risks Associated with the procedure?

Certain minimal risks are involved when you undertake facet joint injections. However, the risks are minimal and, suffice to say, similar to any procedure which involves needle placement. Such risks include an allergic reaction to the numbing agent or contrast dye.

That being said, it is imperative to inform your physician if you have any known allergies before the procedure. This can help avoid any potential risks or complications.

Cervical pain can affect your lifestyle. Contact the team at North Lakes Pain today to help in pain management.

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