Facet joint injections are typically done in two stages. The first injection is done to confirm the diagnosis, to see if the facet joint is the cause of the pain. A small needle is placed and medication is injected around a small nerve close to the joint that is causing pain. The medications commonly used are a numbing medication (local anesthetic such as lidocaine) and a steroid medication which is a very strong anti-inflammatory medication (such as cortisone.)
A second procedure may be done, which can provide a more long term solution depending on the results of the first injection. The second injection temporarily destroys the nerve innervating the joint and causing the pain. The nerve then regrows very slowly, generally in 1-2 years. During this time, patients are generally pain free. Generally, three injections in a three month period can be provided.