A facet joint injection is a relatively simple, straightforward procedure, and is usually performed in an office based procedure suite or in an ambulatory surgical center.

As with many spinal injections, facet joint injections are best performed using fluoroscopy (live X-ray) for guidance to properly target and place the needle (and to help avoid nerve injury or other injury).

The Facet Injection

The injection procedure includes the following steps:

  • Commonly, the procedure is performed without any sedation, however, an IV line can be started if relaxation medicine is needed.
  • The patient lies on a procedure table, and the skin over the area to be tested is well cleansed.
  • The physician treats a small area of skin with a numbing medicine (anesthetic), which may sting for a few seconds.
  • The physician uses X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy) to direct a very small needle into the facet joint.
  • A small amount of contrast dye is then injected to confirm that the needle is in the joint and that medication is contained inside the joint.
  • Following this confirmation, a small mixture of anesthetic (such as lidocaine) and anti-inflammatory medication (steroid/cortisone) is then slowly injected into the joint.



The injection itself only takes a few minutes, but the entire procedure usually takes between fifteen and thirty minutes.

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.

Facet Joint Injections