The Cervical facet joint injection is a procedure used to block or decrease pain caused by problems in the upper (cervical) spine.
Cervical facet joints, which are not much larger than your thumbnail, are located on either side of each vertebra. They provide stability and guide motion in neck. If the joints become inflamed you may experience not only neck pain but also pain in the head, shoulders or arms.
The Cervical facet joint injection is an outpatient procedure performed in our CT scan procedure room. Your neck is cleansed with an antiseptic after which the doctor injects local anaesthetic into your skin and tissue.
After the local anaesthetic takes effect the doctor will insert another needle, and uses the CT scanner to confirm correct needle position. When satisfied with the needle position, the doctor will inject a small mixture of long-acting local anaesthetic and anti-inflammatory medicine (cortisone/steroid). We ask that you remain at the Clinic until the doctor feels you are ready to leave. This will usually be for 10-15 minutes only. No sedation is necessary, so you should be capable of driving after the procedure.
How long will the procedure take?
Normally, a Cervical facet joint injection takes no more than 10 or 15 minutes.
Before the procedure
There is no need to fast before the procedure. If you are a diabetic, be sure to discuss your eating and medication schedule with your doctor. You may need to stop taking certain medications (i.e. warfarin) several days before the procedure. The doctor will tell you if and when you need to discontinue the medications.
After the procedure
We recommend that you abstain from physical activities for 48 hours following Cervical facet joint injection. Depending on how you feel, you may resume normal activities and return to work the following day. If the doctor prescribes physical therapy, it is very important that you continue with the physical therapy program. Although you may feel much better immediately after the injection (due to the numbing medicine), there is a possibility your pain may return within a few hours. It may take up to 2-3 weeks for the steroid medication to start working.
The risks, although infrequent, include infection and bleeding at the site of injection. Rarely, adverse events may include damage to adjacent nerves and spinal structures.