What are facet joints and why are facet joint injections helpful?
The spine is designed to bend and turn. Along with the intervertebral discs, facet joints
(also referred to as Z joints
or zygapophyseal joints
) enable the spine to bend and twist. Each vertebra has two sets of facet joints
. One set of facet joints is located at the top and a corresponding set is at the bottom.
are small joints a little larger than the size of your thumbnails located in pairs on the back of your spine. They provide stability and guide motion in your back. If the joints become painful they may cause pain in your neck, shoulder, low back, abdomen, buttocks, groin or legs. The pattern and location of pain helps to determine the likely facet joints
Working like a hinge, the articulating surfaces of each facet joint
are coated with smooth cartilage allowing friction free movement. Although the facet joint
bones fit snugly together, there is a lubrication system. The lubricating ‘oil’ is called synovial fluid and resembles uncooked egg whites. This fluid also nourishes the cartilage tissues. A block that is performed to confirm that a facet joint
is the source of pain and decrease pain and inflammation in a facet joint or joints
- The Facet Joint injection (FJI) procedure targets the facet joint thought to be responsible for a patient’s back pain. The joint is injected and anesthetized with the intent of relieving this pain.
- The facet injection procedure delivers a low volume of concentrated medication directly into the affected joint.