Facet Joint Injection

What is it?

Facet joint injections are performed by a radiologist to alleviate back pain or neck pain in patients that have had a previous injury or suffer from osteo-arthritis of the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back) or lumbar (lower back) joints.

A Zygapophyseal joint (also known as facet or Z-joint) is the connection between one vertebra and another immediately above or below it. They are located at the posterior aspect of each vertebra, and are the sites of inflammation and pain when diseased.The purpose of the injection is to relieve the pain - it does not cure or treat the underlying condition causing the pain and inflammation.

How is it done?

You will be asked to lieprone (face down) on the CT scan table. The skin over the exact area of your back pain is uncovered, and the doctor will clean your skin with betadine (an iodine-based antiseptic solution to ensure the procedure is clean). A mixture of local anaesthetic and an anti-inflammatory steroid medicine (cortisone) will be injected. The local anaesthetic takes a few minutes to take effect.

The injection is done under CT guidance - the radiologist will be able to see the facet joint location and the needle on the same image as he/she guides the needle towards the facet joint. This ensures the medication is delivered to the exact site of pain and inflammationwhich is vital for the procedure to be successful.

Please notify us of any medication you are on (especially anti-coagulant/blood thinners such as warfarin) or allergies.

Post Procedure

The needle may sting for a few minutes before the local anaesthetic takes effect. After the injection some patients experience worst pain symptoms than normal, however at most within a few days the cortisone will begin to take effect and your pain will be much reduced or even gone. The effect of this injection can last anywhere between weeks to months to over a year, but eventually you will need a repeat injection. Please rest for a few days after the injection to maximise its future effect.