Facet Joint Injections

What Are Facet Joints?

The spine is formed of a number of vertebrae stacked upon one another, the vertebrae are linked together by facet joints, these occur in pairs along the length of the spine. They are covered in a thin layer of cartilage and enable flexibility – allowing us to bend and twist our bodies and move our vertebrae smoothly.

During the wear and tear process, the cartilage covering the facet joint can break down causing painful symptoms. Pain from facet joints is responsible for approximately 40% of constant mechanical spinal pain in the elderly, and becomes increasingly more common as we age. Other possible causes of facet joint pain may be from inflammatory injury or previous disc problems.

facet joint injection

What Are Facet Joint Injections?

A facet joint injection is usually composed of local anaesthetic and steroids. The anaesthetic reduces pain whilst the steroids help reduce swelling and inflammation. The injection can be administered directly to the joint in order to relieve the pain – this is known as a facet joint injection.

In some cases, the nerves in the area surrounding the facet joint may be targeted to prevent the transmission of painful signals – this is known as a medial branch block.

Symptoms of Facet Joint Pain

Facet joint pain occurs more frequently in the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine. Upon palpation, most patients exhibit signs of sensitivity and tenderness over the affected joint and demonstrate a loss of flexibility, with pain worsened during movement i.e. bending forward, backwards or sideways. When it is only from the facet joints themselves, pain is typically focal to the area affected, and does not radiate anywhere else; it also responds to anti-inflammatory drugs.


A detailed review of the patient’s medical history, a physical examination and the use of diagnostic imagery techniques such as a SPECT CT scan will be required for diagnosis.


Facet joint injections can provide effective pain relief and allow patients to participate in rehabilitative physiotherapy, which may have otherwise been too painful.

If facet joint injections confirm pain is coming from the joint(s), patients may be offered Radiofrequency denervation, providing long term pain relief from the joint/s.

How Is the Procedure Carried Out?

It is a relatively short procedure, patients are usually allowed to go home on the same day. Facet joint injections are administered directly into the joint to relieve pain, a local anaesthetic may be administered to numb any pain caused by the needle. The procedure will be performed under X-Ray control to ensure the needle reaches the right place.

The risks involved are minimal, with infection occurring at a quoted rate of 1:17000 treatments, patients may experience some tenderness following the procedure but are generally able to resume their daily routines within a day or so of the procedure.

If effective, facet joint injections can provide pain relief for anything from 3 months up to 1 year. When combined with radiofrequency denervation, successful diagnosis and treatment can leave you free from this pain for years.


For the latest availability please call 020 7060 5109 or fill out the form below. Please note that there may be a 1-2 week appointment lead time.

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