A facet joint injection is an injection of an anesthetic with a long lasting steroid (“cortisone”) in the Facet joints. Facet joints are located in the back and neck at each vertebral level. They are paired (right and left) and are surrounded by a joint capsule like the finger joints. The steroid injected reduces the inflammation in the joint space. This can reduce pain, and other symptoms caused by inflammation such as nerve irritation.
The injection consists of a mixture of local anesthetic (like Novocain) and the steroid medication. Many times prior to injecting the medicine, a small volume of contrast dye is used to confirm proper needle placement. The immediate effect is usually from the local anesthetic injected. This wears off in a few hours. The cortisone starts working in about 5 to 7 days and its effect can last for several days to many months.