An Overview of Cervical Facet Joint Injections

An Overview of Cervical Facet Joint Injections


Although cervical facet joint injections tend to be tried after other treatments have been used and have not been successful, it is an extremely useful procedure that can bring enormous relief to a significant number of patients.


The Problem:


Patients may be referred for a cervical facet joint injection if they have pain in the neck that originates in the cervical facet joints. These joints are the small joints that keep the bones or vertebrae of the spine in place. Facet joints are sited all along the spine, but cervical facet joints refer specifically to the joints that relate to the neck and top of the spine.


General wear and tear, along with age related degeneration or injury, especially whiplash, can cause the cervical facet joints to become inflamed and painful and the pain experienced may be difficult to treat.


Physiotherapy and Analgesics


Usually, the first course of treatment will be analgesics and physiotherapy. This is, in effect, a dual approach because the analgesics should reduce the pain, but the physiotherapy should help to regain flexibility and ensure that the joints are ‘freed up’.


Why Are Cervical Facet Joint Injections Not The First Option?


Many patients feel that if cervical facet joint injections are so beneficial to patients then they should be the first course of treatment that is offered to the patient. However, a cervical facet joint injection will help reduce pain levels, but afterwards, patients will still need to undergo physiotherapy to help keep the joint mobile and ensure that the condition doesn’t reappear.


Consequently, there is no point in first opting for a cervical facet joint injection without at least trying physiotherapy combined with analgesics.


The Injections


The injections are specifically targeted at specific areas of the joints into a relatively soft membrane known as the synovium. The injections are a very small amount of steroid, combined with a local anaesthetic.


Together these act as a means of reducing pain and reducing the inflammation that leads to pain. 


The pain reduction is fairly immediate and can last for a period of weeks or months, although it should not be viewed as a ‘magic bullet’ or a single cure for pain; there is a definite need to ensure that physiotherapy is continued as a way of ensuring that the condition is kept at bay.

The physiotherapy will also help to improve the flexibility within the joints, so that you will be able to move with greater ease and less pain!


Patients Who May Not Be Able To Have Cervical Facet Joint Injections


Although cervical facet joint injections are relatively safe, patients with a condition such as haemophilia will be unable to have these injections. Patients who are on medication that prevents the blood from clotting will also have to stop taking their medication for a few days prior to the injections, but only under medical supervision i.e. your pain consultant needs to advise on when it should be stopped.


If a patient has an infection in the skin where the injection will be administered, then the injection will have to be postponed until the skin infection has healed, but otherwise it is a very safe procedure that can help patients regain a pain free life!









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