Cervical Facet Joint Injections: What Are They?
Sometimes simple procedures can have very complex names or the name of the procedure gives little indication of what the procedure actually entails. Cervical facet joint injections are actually quite straightforward and as the name suggests, the procedure entails injections into the cervical facet joints!
Cervical Facet Joints
Anything to do with the spine is divided into three sections, the cervical area (towards the neck area of the spine), the thoracic area (effectively the middle) and the lumbar area (towards the buttocks). So cervical refers to any area that is associated with the top of the spine.
The facet joints are the parts which act as the joining bridge between two bones. Each bone or vertebra has its own unique sets of facet joints. One joint is on the left and one joint on the right.
These joints basically allow the bones to move and provide the spine with flexibility etc.
So cervical facet joints are the joints that are located within the vertebrae of the very upper part of the spine!
Cervical Facet Joint Pain
Pain can originate within the cervical facet joints for different reasons. Sometimes this is to do with the ageing process, where the joints simply get worn. This does not mean that someone is old, merely that the joints have been subjected to a lot of wear and tear and the end result is that they effectively ‘wear out’. Some people find that this happens early on, in middle rather than old age.
Other people may have experienced some kind of injury (sometimes referred to as a trauma) that has damaged the joints in some way. This damage can have happened some time in the past, but the problem does no present until some time later.
Injections are effectively carried out to ensure that the pain that is being felt in the cervical facet joints is reduced. The injections are nothing more than a combination of steroid with a local anaesthetic. This combination ensures that the inflammation is reduced and the pain itself is treated with the local anaesthetic.
The injections are very safe, with no real risks from the procedure. There is also no need to stay in hospital overnight, unless there are other health conditions present.
Benefits of Cervical Facet Joint Injections
The aim benefit of the cervical facet joint injection is that it is a good way of reducing pain and ensuring that pain is alleviated.
Mobility within the area is often greatly increased, so patients feel that they can move their neck with greater ease and that they are much more flexible than before the injection.
It is also a very quick procedure with only a minimum of disruption to patients, so they can simply arrive, have their injection and then go home after only a short time.
Finally patients can benefit for many months, because it can be effective for a long time. If the pain does return and further injections are of value, then the cervical joints can be denerved with radiofrequency and pain can be completely alleviated.