There are numerous structures in your spine that can cause neck and/or shoulder pain. The facet joints are a frequent cause of neck pain. Facet joints are small joints at each segment of the spine that provide stability and help guide motion. The facet joints can become painful due to arthritis of the spine, a back injury, or mechanical stress to the back. Cervical facet joints are located on the back or side of the neck. Pain caused by cervical facet joints (in the neck) is usually felt in the head, neck, shoulder, and/or arm.
Neck or head pain resulting from suspected arthritis of the small joints (facet joints) of your spinal column. These are the joints in your spine that allow you to twist and bend forward, backward and sideways. They take a lot of stress and loading over the course of our lives. They may become arthritic enough so that we can even see the degeneration on X-rays or MRI. However, many times we cannot see an abnormality on radiographic studies, although we still believe that these joints are generating all or some of your neck and/or arm pain.
Facet joint injections usually have two goals: to help diagnose the cause and location of pain and also to provide pain relief
Facet joint injection – In this approach a needle is placed directly inside the joint, dye is injected in the joint to confirm placement, and then local and steroid is injected within the joint. The local anesthetic provides some temporary relief and the steroid reduces inflammation in the area, hopefully providing long term relief.
Facet mapping – In this situation, the nerves that innervate the joint are blocked with local anesthetic to see if there is a change in symptoms (and typically steroid is added to try and achieve a prolonged effect by reducing the inflammation in the area). This approach frequently provides extended relief similar or better than intra-articular joint injections. A mapping procedure must always be performed prior to performing a more long lasting treatment to the facet joints, radiofrequency ablation. This provides confirmation that the nerves causing the patient’s pain are correctly identified before they are blocked on a more long term basis. Today most facet blocks are done via a mapping approach.
You should call us immediately at 732-800-7246 if you experience any of the following after the injection:
Severe neck pain that is not relieved with medication and ice
New numbness or weakness of the arms
Signs of infection in the area of injection
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