What are cervical facet joints?

Cervical facet joints are small joints located in pairs on the back/side of your neck. These joints provide stability and guide motion in your spine.

Why are facet joint injections helpful?

If the joints become painful due to arthritis, injury, or mechanical stress, they can cause pain in various areas. The cervical facet joints can cause pain in your head, neck, shoulder or arm.
A facet joint injection serves several purposes. First, by placing numbing medicine into the joint, the amount of immediate pain relief you experience will help confirm or deny the joint as a source of your pain. That is, if you obtain complete relief of your main pain while the facet joints are numb, then these joints are likely your pain source. Furthermore, time-release cortisone will be injected into these joints to reduce any presumed inflammation, which can, on many occasions, provide long-term pain relief.

What will happen to me during the procedure?

An IV will be started so that adequate relaxation medicine can be given, if needed. After lying on an arthritis, injury, or mechanical stress, table, the skin over the area of the spine to be treated will be well cleansed. Next, the physician numbs a small area of skin with numbing medicine (anesthetic), which stings for a few seconds. Next, the physician will use x-ray guidance to direct a very small needle into the joint. He then injects several drops of contrast dye to confirm that the medicine only goes into the joint. A small mixture of numbing medicine (anesthetic) and anti-inflammatory cortisone is then slowly injected.