- Chronic neck pain
- Upper back pain
- Shoulder pain
Facet joints are used to connect the vertebrae and they help guide your spine as you move. They are found on both sides of the spine and are named for the vertebrae they connect and the side of the spine in which they are found. For example, the left C2-3 facet joins the second and third vertebrae on the left side of the spine.
Cervical facet joint pain can range from simple muscle tension to severe pain, and is dependent upon the injury and the joint that is affected. The injury can include the cartilage inside the joint itself or just the connecting ligaments surrounding the joint, with pain occurring from your head down to your shoulder blade.
The procedure may start with an IV to help you relax and a local anesthetic to numb your skin. The physician then inserts a very thin needle directly into the facet joint. Fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray, is used to ensure proper needle placement and a dye may also be injected to make sure the needle is in the correct spot. Once the needle is correctly placed, the physician injects the anesthetic and steroid.
You will be monitored for 30 minutes following the injection, at which time you will be given your discharge instructions and be allowed to leave the clinic. You may notice immediate relief and numbness in your neck for a few hours after the injection, which means the medication has reached the correct spot. It’s normal for your pain to return after this initial pain-free period; and, it may even worsen for a day or two. You may be able to return to work the following day, but always make sure to consult your physician.
The steroid will start working after a couple days, but can sometimes take up to a week. Relief varies from person to person and depends on the amount of inflammation involved. Sometimes this injection brings several months of pain relief, and sometimes long-term relief is acquired.