Cervical facet joints are located in pairs at the back of your neck that provide stability and help your body to move normally. The outer surface of your cervical facet joints is composed of articular cartilage, which has a smooth, shiny exterior that allows your bones to slide over each other with minimal friction and stress. When the cervical facet joints become irritated due to arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or another inflammatory condition, they can cause pain in your neck and back.
A cervical facet injection is a procedure used to specifically diagnose a patient’s pain as well as provide immediate and long-term pain relief so they can comfortably participate in a physical therapy program. The procedure involves injecting a numbing agent—usually a steroid-based medication—into the facet joints to block pain. The degree of immediate relief experienced by the patient will help determine whether the facet joint is itself the source of pain or if there is a further underlying condition that must be addressed.
If after a facet joint injection, a patient experiences immediate relief, it’s likely the joint is the source of pain. Conversely, if immediate pain relief is not experienced, there is likely an underlying condition. At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, our doctors perform cervical facet injections to provide pain relief for patients struggling with facet joint irritation.
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Cervical facet joint irritation is a common cause of neck and back pain. With age and other inflammatory factors, these joints can become susceptible to wear and tear or degeneration. These degenerative changes to the joint can result in pain, loss of motion, or a pinched nerve. There are a variety of conditions and factors that can cause your cervical facet joints to become inflamed. Some of the most common include:
The only way to know if your joints themselves are the underlying cause of your pain is to seek medical care from a skilled spine specialist. A spine doctor can determine if a cervical facet injection is the best treatment option for your pain.
During a cervical facet injection, your doctor will usually use fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance to locate the facet joints. Once the joints are identified, the doctor will then slowly inject them with a very small needle containing an anti-inflammatory component—usually steroids or cortisone. This procedure is normally performed without any sedation. However, the area of the skin where the needle will be injected is normally treated with a numbing agent.
After the procedure, patients can expect to spend 20–30 minutes in the recovery area. Most commonly, the steroid medication will start to work between two days and two weeks after the injection. The amount of pain relief patients experience will vary depending on the underlying cause of their pain.
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When the cervical facet joints become irritated, the symptoms will vary depending on what soft tissue structures are damaged or affected. For some people, the symptoms may be fairly moderate, and for others, they can be severe, signaling a more serious condition like degenerative disc disease. Some of the common symptoms of cervical facet irritation include:
If you are experiencing these symptoms, a cervical facet injection may be an appropriate treatment method for your pain. However, the only way to accurately determine if it is the best treatment for your situation is to consult a skilled spine doctor.
At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, our surgeons are dedicated to treating your pain and helping you get your life back. Our experienced and board-certified neurologists, neurosurgeons, and orthopedic specialists work together to treat spine and back disorders with minimally invasive techniques. Our doctors understand that every person is unique and requires a personalized treatment plan. At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, we treat people, not patients. To schedule an appointment with one of our skilled spine experts, call (866) 272-9271 or fill out our online contact form.
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