When the small joints in the spine—known as facets—become irritated or inflamed due to natural deterioration, pain and a limitation of normal movements can occur. Patients experiencing arthritis or some sort of degenerative disease are especially susceptible to this condition, and in many cases a facet joint injection of an anti-inflammatory steroid may be necessary to achieve relief of symptoms.

A fairly simple procedure that requires only a local anesthesia, while a patient is lying face down an x-ray is utilized to isolate the affected facet joint or joints, after which a needle containing a steroid (combined with a numbing agent) is inserted into the area and the medication is injected. After the procedure the patient will be observed for a short while, then discharged.

Because a numbing agent is injected in conjunction with the steroid, the patient will feel immediate relief from their symptoms and can resume normal activities immediately. The steroid, on the other hand, will provide longer-term relief (up to several months), however additional injections may be necessary once the effects of the steroid wear off with time.