Skip to main content
Man golfing
FJI icon

Facet Joint Injections

Download the Cervical Facet Injection treatment handout
Download the Lumbar Facet Injection treatment handout
Facet Joint Injections

Damaged facet joints can lead to significant pain in the back or neck that impacts quality of life. The damage is often caused by degenerative changes to the spine, leading to chronic neck or back pain.

The condition called facet joint syndrome is an arthritis-like condition that may limit mobility and performance in daily activities.

Facet joint pain is very common.

A facet joint injection may help relieve pain and restore better functioning. However, there are other several factors about the injections that you should consider before requesting injections.

To find out if facet joint injections may help you, call us today at (480) 573-0130 or contact us online.

Symptoms of Facet Joint Pain

The exact symptoms of facet joint pain may vary based on the location of the joints involved. Symptoms can progress and become worse over time. General symptoms of facet pain can include the following:

  • Localized pain
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty in certain movements
  • Tenderness

Causes of Facet Joint Pain

There are several causes of facet joint pain. In most cases, facet joint arthritis is the culprit, causing the facet joints to break down from wear and tear. Similar to other joints in the body, inflammation may develop, leading to pain and stiffness.

However, some underlying risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing facet joint pain. Risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Spinal fractures
  • Poor posture
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Past spinal trauma
  • Tobacco use
  • Repetitive positions/movements

Facet joint pain can affect either males or females and is most common in adults after age 40.

Blog Post Facet Joint Injections

Damaged facet joints can lead to significant pain in the back or neck that impacts quality of life. The damage is often caused by degenerative changes to the spine, leading to chronic neck or back pain.

Reason to get Facet Joint Injections

The condition called facet joint syndrome is an arthritis-like condition that may limit mobility and performance in daily activities.

What Are Cervical, Thoracic, And Lumbar Facet Joint Injections?

Facet joints are small joints that connect segments of the spine. The facet joints play a role in motion, such as allowing the spine to bend and twist. Facet joints also provide stability.

Facet joints can often become damaged from arthritis in the spine. Damage can also occur from trauma, such as whiplash to the neck or low back. The result is often chronic spine pain.

Facet joint injections are a minimally invasive procedure that aims to decrease facet joint pain, such as low back pain. The procedure involves delivering a combination of a steroid and numbing medication, typically injected into the tissue surrounding and into the facet joint.

Therapeutic facet joint injections, also called facet blocks, are named based on the part of the spine where the injection is performed. For example, lumbar facet joint injections are delivered to the lower back to reduce lower back pain, and cervical facet joint injections are delivered into the neck to reduce neck pain. Thoracic injections are administered near the middle of or middle of the back.

What Does Facet Pain Feel Like?

Facet joint pain can affect one or both sides of the back. Most people describe facet joint pain as a dull ache.

Depending on the part of the spine and facet joints involved, some people may also develop additional symptoms. For instance, facet joint pain may lead to shooting pain that travels from the low back to the glutes, thigh, and calf.

Pain Relief With Cervical Facet Joint Injections

Pain in the cervical area of the spine can become debilitating. When arthritis or injury affects the cervical facet joint, it can cause a variety of symptoms including neck stiffness, tenderness, and pain along with headaches.

Cervical joint pain can also cause discomfort when looking upward or twisting the neck. Cervical joint injections can provide pain relief and an improved ability to move the neck and back without discomfort.

Lumbar Facet Joint Injections for Facet Joint Arthritis

The lumbar facet joints in the lower back carry the weight of the upper back. Repeated stress to the joints from bending and twisting can cause the lumbar facet joints to break down.

Facet joint pain can also affect the thoracic area, but it more commonly affects the lumbar facet joints.

Low back pain from facet joint syndrome can adversely affect movement and make doing everyday activities challenging. Additionally, facet joint pain in the lower back can become severe. Lumbar facet joint injections often provide pain relief, which can lead to improved functioning and overall quality of life.

Conditions Treated with Facet Joint Injections

There are certain conditions that may benefit from facet joint injections. Conditions treated with facet injections include those associated with spinal conditions and arthritis, including:

  • Facet joint osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis

How to Diagnose Facet Joint Pain

A doctor will diagnose facet joint pain through a combination of medical exams, medical history, and imaging tests. Physicians will often also ask about medical conditions present, injuries, and current symptoms.

During a physical exam, the doctor will feel the neck and back to determine if there are any tender areas. They may also check reflexes and muscle strength to help rule out certain conditions.

Imaging tests, such as x-rays and/or CT scans are also helpful to view the facet joints. A diagnostic facet injection is another facet joint injection technique that may also help a doctor make a diagnosis. To do this procedure, the physician injects an anesthetic into the facet joint to block pain. If an individual gets pain relief from the numbing medication, it signals that the facet joint is the source of the pain.

Am I a Good Candidate for a Facet Injection?

You may be a good candidate for therapeutic facet joint injections if you have moderate to conservative facet pain that has not responded to options. Before having a facet joint injection, most doctors recommend trying conservative treatments.

Conservative treatments are non-invasive options, such as physical therapy, rest, and applying heat and ice. Physical therapy also may include stretching, strengthening, and postural corrections. When this conservative treatment does not provide pain relief, a facet injection may be the next step.

The best way to determine if you are a candidate for facet joint injections is to have a consultation at Advanced Spine and Pain. After we complete a thorough assessment and physical exam, we can determine the most appropriate treatment plan, including a facet joint injection to meet your needs.

How is a Facet Injection Done?

Prior to having the facet injection, your physician provides information on how to prepare for the injection. This may include stopping certain medications that may increase bleeding.

Facet joint injections are usually performed in a doctor’s office or an outpatient surgical facility. You can choose to be aware or sedated during the procedure and can go home the same day after an observation period.

Your pain physician will use a fluoroscope (X-ray), to guide & facilitate the injection. This helps the physician visualize the joint for the medication's injection.

Once the injection site is sterilized to reduce the risk of infection, the area is numbed with a local anesthetic to decrease discomfort from the needle. The physician inserts the needle into the target area and injects the medication.

In addition to a steroid/numbing medication, platelet-rich plasma or other regenerative medication treatments may be used with facet injections for pain relief. After the doctor removes the needle, a dressing is applied to the injection site.

What are the Possible Side Effects of Facet Joint Injections?

Facet joint injections are typically safe. Side effects are usually brief and major complications of a facet injection are rare.

However, with any procedure, side effects are possible. Possible adverse events from facet joint injections include:

  • Pain and tenderness at the injection site
  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Minor bruising

It is possible to have an adverse reaction to the medications. For instance, steroids can cause temporary side effects, such as an increase in blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and insomnia for approximately 24-48 hours.

There is also the possibility that the facet injection will not relieve pain. However, most people have a positive response to facet injections. In fact, some people have immediate pain relief. However, responses can vary.

What Happens After a Facet Joint Injection

After the injection, you are observed for a brief amount of time to ensure you do not develop any complications, such as an allergic reaction to the medication. You may notice an immediate decrease in pain.

Keep in mind, not everyone has immediate pain relief. It could take days to weeks for the medication to kick in and take effect.

While you are observed, the nurse will monitor your vital signs, such as blood pressure and pulse. During this time, you will be lying down to rest.

The nurse provides discharge instructions and information you need before you go. You will be provided post-procedure discharge instructions.

You may be instructed to have someone drive you home. Most people are able to return to their normal routine or activities the day after the injection.

What’s Next if Facet Joint Injections Don’t Work?

It is common to ask, what’s next if facet joint injections don’t work? There are additional treatments that may help. Treatment options may include additional intermittent treatments.

After the injection, your doctor may suggest you wait a couple of weeks to determine its effectiveness. Although some people experience immediate pain relief, it may take others a few weeks to have a positive response.

Certain factors, such as contributing causes of pain and individual anatomy, may stop the injection from relieving symptoms. If this occurs, consult with your healthcare provider to find alternative treatment options that may help your specific situation.





Advanced Spine and Pain is a leading pain management group based in Phoenix, AZ, and quickly expanding throughout the state. Offering minimally-invasive pain care services, the ASAP group consists of Arizona's top pain management specialists, including Drs. Abram Burgher, Todd Turley, and Jarrett Leathem.

Contact info

If you have any questions about our services, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.

Follow Us