Learn about a procedure used to treat neck pain and pain from whiplash
A cervical facet injection refers to a clinical procedure where facet joint that is inflamed or injured within the neck is injected with steroids to reduce the pain. It is performed under the guidance of an x-ray.
Cervical facet refers to a joint within the cervical spine which lies in close proximity to nerves and blood vessels. Cervical facet pain can cause distress to the patient and difficulty moving the neck in different directions.
Sometimes, in the presence of inflammation or following injury or degenerative disease, cervical facets can become painful and require treatment. Whiplash injury is also a cause of cervical facet pain and occurs after a road traffic accident.
Patients are requested to observe an overnight fast the day before the procedure. After consent for the procedure is being, the area of the neck where the injection will be administered is cleaned with antiseptic solution.
The facet joint is identified using an x-ray machine called a fluoroscope. The patient is offered a local anesthetic injection and may also be given mild sedation.
Following this, the needle is inserted into the neck all the way to the affected facet joint. A strong steroid is injected into the joint and the needle is then withdrawn. The procedure can cause slight pain and discomfort but this is short lived. The area is then cleaned and dressed.
Following the procedure, the patient is observed for a short period of time and is then discharged home. It is recommended that a family member or friend take the patient home as they will still be under the effects of the sedative.
The procedure is fairly safe and has very few side effects and risks. These are mostly due to the drugs that are used rather than the procedure itself. Patients may feel mild discomfort in the neck after the procedure but this passes very quickly. Allergic reactions may occur and can present as redness of the skin and itching. Serious complications are rare.
Many patients experience relief from being fairly quickly and this can last for a few months. However, patients may require future injections if the pain returns.