Cervical Facet Joint Injections
A cervical facet joint injection is a highly effective outpatient procedure used to diagnose and treat shoulder, neck, upper back, and headache pain.
Cervical Facet Joints: in a Nutshell
Facet joints are the small joints located in pairs on both sides of the spine. Each one is approximately the size of a thumbnail. They connect the vertebrae which help guide the spine as you move. The cervical region consists of seven vertebrae. Facet joints are named for the side of the spine they are located and the vertebrae they connect. For example, the second and third vertebrae situated on the right side are joined by the right C2-3 cervical facet joint.
Is it Painful if Cervical Facet Joint is Injured?
If a facet joint is injured, either the cartilage inside or just the connection ligaments around the joint is damaged. So, the pain can either be mild, akin to muscle tension, or quite painful depending on the severity of your injury and which facet is affected. You may feel cervical facet pain anywhere from the lower shoulder blade up to the head.
How Will You Know if You Are Experiencing Cervical Facet Joint Pain?
You’ll know that you are suffering from cervical facet pain if you experience pain in one or more areas when you turn your neck or head, and the pain lasts for more than two months. Standard tests like MRIs and x-rays won’t always let you know if a cervical facet joint is the one causing the pain, though.
Cervical Facet Injection Explained
During a cervical facet injection, your doctor will inject a numbing medicine (local anesthetic) and anti-inflammatory medicine (corticosteroid) into one or more of the facet joints to see if they will temporarily reduce your pain. If they do lessen your pain and help improve your mobility, it may tell your doctor which cervical facet joint is causing your pain. The steroid in the injection is used to treat facet joint inflammation.
What to Expect during an Injection?
Your doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb your skin, then a thin needle will be inserted into the cervical facet joint with the help of a type of x-ray called Fluoroscopy. Fluoroscopy is an essential piece of equipment during the procedure, as it ensures the proper and safe positioning of the needle. To guarantee the correct positioning of the needle, your doctor may also inject a dye. The medicine will only be injected when your doctor is sure that the needle is at the right spot.
What to Expect After an Injection?
After receiving an injection, you will be closely monitored for about 30 minutes. The staff will give you aftercare instructions, as well as a pain diary, when you are ready to be discharged. It’s vital that you follow the instructions carefully if you want to recover faster. Also, don’t forget to jot down any pains and aches you are experiencing on the diary provided, as this will help your doctor determine how well the injection is working. You can carefully try to move or tilt your neck just to see if the pain is still there, but don’t overdo yourself.
You’ll know that the injection is working if you feel immediate numbness in the neck and pain relief for a certain period of time following the injection. The pain could return, maybe even worse, for about one or two days after this pain-free period. It’s possible that you are experiencing some irritation from the needle or the corticosteroid itself is causing this pain. It normally takes two to three days for the corticosteroids to work, but can also take as long as one week. Most people are able to return to work only a day after the procedure. But, do consult with your doctor first before returning to your daily activities.
How Long Will the Pain Relief Last?
Every patient’s case is unique, so the duration and extent of pain relief may also vary depending on the number of areas involved and the severity of the inflammation. It’s also possible that other coexisting factors are responsible for the pain. An injection may bring several weeks or even months of pain relief before more treatments are needed. However, there are also times when only one injection is needed for long-term pain relief, especially you have no underlying joint or bone problems. If you are injured in more than one area, an injection may only help with just some of the symptoms you are experiencing.
Pain Stop Clinics is dedicated to using minimally invasive procedures to manage your pain. Contact us to speak about Cervical Facet Joint Injection today.
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