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What is a cervical facet joint injection?
Cervical facet joints are small joints that can be found on the side or in the back of your neck. These joints come in pairs, and their purpose is to enhance stability and motion between the neck and the spine.
However, there are times when cervical facet joints can become painful due to a variety of conditions, including mechanical stress, injury, and arthritis. Pain with your cervical facet joints can lead to pain in your arms, shoulders, head, and neck.
The cervical facet joint injection provides pain relief by numbing the area and reducing any possible inflammation. This leads to both short-term and long-term pain relief.
When would I need a cervical facet joint injection?
A cervical facet joint injection involves a steroid medication and/or an anesthetic to stop the pain and reduce any inflammation. This allows patients to find relief from the pain long enough to undergo other treatments or rehabilitation properly. Generally, there are two goals with a cervical facet joint injection: to diagnose the source of the pain and to design a treatment plan to stop it.
Diagnosing the pain: When a patient is given a numbing agent, the doctor will study how much pain relief they experience immediately after. This will help them diagnose the actual source of the pain; if the patient experiences full relief of pain, then the join itself is the clear source.
Pain relief: The facet joint injection also includes steroids (cortisone) to lessen any possible inflammation in the cervical area, which leads to long-term relief.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you might have damage to your cervical facet joints:
- Pain in the shoulder, shoulder blades, or neck, and rarely in the fingers and hands
- Muscle spasms in the area
- Loss of neck motion; pain when moving your neck sideways or up and down
- It is difficult to sit without neck pain for extended periods
Before the Procedure
As this is a quick and non-surgical procedure, preparation before the procedure is limited to getting a full understanding of what will happen during and after. Your doctor will also need to know any allergies you might have or medications you might be on. It is also necessary to discuss with your doctor the possible risks of the procedure.