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Facet Joint Injection

The vertebral bones are separated by discs aka “cushions” on the front part of the spine. Along the back part of the spine, the vertebral bones contact each other on both sides and form facet joints. There are right and left facet joints at each level of the spine, and they help stabilize the spine during movement.

In the neck portion of the spine, these joints are called cervical facet joints. In the mid-back section, they are called thoracic facet joints, and in the lower back, lumbar facet joints. These facet joints stabilize the spine during movement. Similar to other joints in your body, they can become inflamed with overuse.

Facet injections are used diagnostically, to confirm the source of pain, and therapeutically, to treat your pain. These injections can decrease pain from facet arthritis, degeneration of the facet joint, facet hypertrophy, and facet edema.

How It Works

Facet joint injections are performed under live fluoroscopic guidance for the accuracy and safety of this injection.

  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach or on your side.
  • The injection area will be cleaned with an antiseptic, and a sterile drape will be placed.
  • Your Center for Pain Management physician will inject a numbing medication (local anesthetic) to numb the skin.
  • Then, a needle will be guided into your facet joint with x-ray guidance, and an anti-inflammatory medication (cortisone) will be deposited into your facet joint.
  • Finally, the needle will be removed, and a sterile dressing will be applied.


Similar to any other procedure or medication, there are potential risks (although very low) of infection, bleeding, allergic reaction, and prolonged increases in pain. To reduce these risks as well as spinal headache and nerve damage, your doctor will use x-ray guidance and sterile techniques throughout the procedure.