What is the Facet Joint Injections Procedure

by Donna Werking, Northern AZ Social, LLC 

Major joint injections of the extremities, such as in the knees, shoulders, hips, etc. are used to treat the pain that comes most commonly from arthritis.

​The joints of the extremities can undergo degeneration from constant wear-and-tear (osteoarthritis), from injury (chronic sprains) or from disease (rheumatoid arthritis), which leads to chronic inflammation and pain. If the inflammation is severe and left untreated, the joint can become permanently damaged from erosion and destruction of the cartilage lining of the joint.

The biggest joints of the extremities are the ones most involved with arthritis, such as in the shoulders, hips and knees. Arthritis can also involve the smaller joints such as the ankles, wrist and finger joints. The medicine injected (corticosteroid) reduces the inflammation and swelling inside the joint space. This treats the pain long term.

Procedure Overview

The procedure can be done in an office setting or our ambulatory surgery center at Northern Arizona Spine and Pain Center. You may be sitting or lying down to be comfortable. This will allow the physician to palpate and to identify the joint space where the needle will be inserted. The local anesthetic is injected to reduce discomfort.

Once the needle is properly positioned inside the joint, the injection is then performed using a mixture of a local anesthetic (lidocaine) and an anti-inflammatory agent (corticosteroid). It is the corticosteroid medication that reverses and controls the inflammation of arthritis that causes joint destruction and pain. Sustained, long-term relief usually is achieved  after a series of injection treatments.

After the Procedure

Icing for 15 to 20 minutes several times later that day is recommended, along with easy range of motion exercises. You may return immediately to work or regular activities after the injection. You may drive, although some people feel less nervous if they know they have someone along to drive them home. You should continue any physical therapy sessions already scheduled.

You may be sore for the first 24 to 48 hours. If any unusual redness or swelling or warmth occurs at the injection site, notify the physician. You may continue taking all of your regular medications. It may take a few days for the corticosteroid medication to start working, and you should notice long-term pain relief starting to work by then. Watch the facet joint injections procedure at www.nazspineandpain.com/major-joint-injections