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Facet Nerve Injection

Facet nerve injections are diagnostic procedures that help identify the source of irritation in the nerves that run along the outer edge of the facet joints within the spine. If multiple levels of pain exist within the facets, several injections may be required on different days to pinpoint the pain source in each location.

By anesthetizing these nerves, the physician can determine whether the nerve irritation should be treated with medication or by radiofrequency (RF) rhizotomy. Pain relief varies for each person ranging from short-term to long-term relief.

Learn more about Facet Nerve Injections:

  • We will contact you prior to your appointment to review medications you are currently taking, your medical history, potential risks and answer any of your questions.
  • Contact your provider before you stop taking any medication.
  • If you have films, reports or CD-ROMs of any MRI, CT or X-rays you have already had, please bring them to the appointment.
  • Please bring a driver to drive you home after your appointment.
  • At your appointment, women should always inform their provider or X-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant or if they are breast feeding.
  • Using a thin needle and X-ray-guidance (fluoroscopy), a radiologist will inject contrast (X-ray dye) into or adjacent to the facet nerve thought to be causing your pain. Contrast is designed to ensure correct placement of the needle for the procedure.
  • The radiologist will be interested in how this discomfort compares to your usual pain symptoms.
  • X-rays are taken, and a combination of an anti-inflammatory (steroid) and anesthetic (numbing) medications are then injected for pain relief.
  • You will remain awake during this procedure, and may experience some slight pressure or discomfort during the injection.
  • You may be asked to wait after your procedure for observation.
  • You may experience temporary numbness and/or relief from your symptoms after the injection.
  • Your usual symptoms may then return and possibly be worse than usual for a day or two. The beneficial effects of the steroids usually require several days to take hold, but may take longer.
  • If an initial injection provided a certain amount of relief, a second injection might strengthen the pain relief effect. Also, if your pain subsides, but begins to return weeks or months later, additional injections may be possible.
  • If there is no change in your symptoms after a week, your provider may want to investigate other possible sources for your pain.

If the injection blocked your pain effectively, but only for a short time, your provider may request additional injections. Your provider may also wish to consider a procedure that offers more permanent relief, such as radiofrequency rhizotomy.

Although complications are rare, we will review possible side effects and risks with you prior to your exam so you can ask questions and decide if this exam is right for you.


NOTE: This procedure is not performed in all of our centers. Please contact the location or region nearest you for more information or to schedule an appointment. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have!