To start the procedure, the physician numbs the skin and tissue above the facet joint with an injection of local anesthetic. Then, with the aid of an X-ray device called a fluoroscope, the physician guides a needle through the numbed tissue and into the facet joint. Contrast dye is injected into the joint to confirm the needle’s placement. Once the needle is positioned properly, the physician injects a mixture of numbing anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroid medication. The back/neck pain may subside significantly or disappear after the procedure because of the anesthetic.
After the anesthetic starts to wear off the pain may return. The steroid medication typically takes effect within two days to two weeks after the procedure to reduce inflammation and pain. The length of relief will vary anywhere from several days to several months depending upon the severity of the condition.