Spine Joint Injections

A spinal joint injection typically refers to injecting a nominal amount of a local anesthetic, which can numb the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar facet joints, or a steroid medication to block the pain. This non-surgical procedure is primary done to increase a patient’s ability to withstand the physical therapy necessary to rehabilitate when a patient suffers from a back condition or an injury.

A spinal joint injection is a minimally invasive procedure that can diagnose a problem or to treat pain caused by a spinal condition or inflammation. The medication is injected into the tissue around the joint capsule or directly into the joint capsule. When an injection causes almost immediate relief or allows for greater movement, it has effectively diagnosed a facet joint problem.

When a spinal joint condition has already been diagnosed, the medication can relieve pain for as long as a few years, but commonly lasts a few months.

Types of Injections

Steroid injections are commonly viewed as a short-term fix for a spinal joint problem, but it is medically approved because of the measure of pain relief that patients with facet joint issues receive from injections.

The cervical joints are the seven vertebrae in the neck that the skull rests on so they are more flexible than other vertebrae. Cervical joint injections may be necessary when there has been an injury, irritation, or joint dysfunction. An injury or joint dysfunction in the cervical joints can cause pain to the head, shoulder blades, and any area in between the two areas.

The thoracic spine consists of twelve vertebrae along the sternum and ribs, which helps to protect the heart and lungs. Steroid injections in this area may be required to relieve pain associated with pinched nerves and other conditions.

The injections will reduce swelling associated with inflammation, which would make a patient more comfortable and increase their ability to continue moving.

Lumbar joints are in the lower back where the spine curves inward so it supports the weight of the torso. Steroid injections are commonly used in the lumbar joints to treat low back pain, to relieve pain, and to provide greater long-term relief through rehabilitative treatment.


Spine joint injections may be used to treat multiple spinal conditions, including sciatica, arthritis, laminectomies, spinal stenosis, and herniated discs. It is recommended when non-surgical treatments, like back braces, rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication, has not produced results.

Spinal joint injections should only be performed by medical professionals in a clinical setting to ensure the safety of the patient.

Side Effects

The risks associated with steroid injections includes allergic reaction to the medication, nerve damage, increased pain caused by nerve damage, and/or a spinal headache. Steroid injections may also cause anxiety, numbing or loss of function in the legs and arms, stomach ulcers, high blood sugar, temporary numbness in the bowel and bladder, and bleeding.

In general, spine joint injections are lower risk treatment options for spine joint pain. Most of the above mentioned side effects are not common, so a patient that is suffering from any side effects should contact their physician immediately for guidance.

For the best results, discuss any concerns about possible sides effects with a medical professional before and after the spinal joint injection, if necessary, to ensure that all questions and concerns have been addressed.