What is the Cervical Facet Joint Injection Procedure for Neck Pain?

A cervical facet joint injection refers to a pain-reducing clinical procedure undertaken by a Pain Specialist, who injects steroids into an injured or inflamed facet joint in a patient’s neck, (under the guidance of an x-ray), in order to diagnose, or treat them

Fast Facts

A facet joint is found on the top and bottom of each vertebra (which link the vertebrae to another vertebrae), and enable back motion. Moreover, in addition to the aforementioned, facet joints guide the spine during movement.

Putting a Spotlight on Facet Joint Pain

“Cervical facet joint pain is the result of joint dysfunction due to injury or irritation. Pain from an irritated cervical facet joint may range from simple muscle tension to more severe pain. Depending on which facet joint is affected, the pain may occur in an area from the head down to the shoulder blades”[1]

If you have been experiencing pain (in one or more places from your head to your shoulder blades), when you turn your head, and it has been present for several months, then contact a Pain Consultant right away, as you could well be suffering from cervical facet pain.

Having a Cervical Facet Joint Injection

When you have this procedure, the Pain Doctor will inject a steroid along with an anaesthetic, into one or more of your cervical facet joints. (The steroid is employed to treat inflammation within the facet joint).

“If the injection temporarily lessens your pain & helps you move your neck better, then your Pain Doctor will know which facet joint is causing the pain” [1].

Your Pain Specialist, who will explain the procedure to you in layman’s terms, will determine whether or not you should have intravenous sedation to keep you relaxed. So, if you are feeling anxious, be sure to let them know, before they get started with your treatment! It is important to know that if you do opt for sedation, then you must fast for four hours before you have the procedure [1].

In the first instance, your Pain Doctor will numb your skin using a local anaesthetic. After this, they will place a fine needle directly into a specific facet joint, with the guidance of an X-ray (known as fluoroscopy). On top of this, a dye will also be injected to ensure that the medication is delivered exactly where it is required. Then, once the cervical facet joint injection procedure has been completed, you will be monitored for around half an hour [1].


[1]. The Core Institute (2019). “Patient Education: Cervical Facet Joint Injections for Neck Pain & Headaches.”