The facet joints are joints where the bones of the spine connect with each other. There are two facet joints at each level of the spine, one on each side. These joints provide stability for the spine and support our body when standing and walking. They also allow for all the various movements of the spine. The facet joints can be a source of pain due to inflammation inside the joint caused by repetitive motion, strenuous activity, trauma, excess body weight, or prolonged standing and walking. Wear and tear changes of the protective cartilage on the surface of the bones can also lead to inflammation.
When inflammation occurs inside a joint, the swelling associated with it causes pressure inside the joint which causes localized pain. The pain from an inflamed facet joint typically is located along the spine and can be aching, throbbing, and burning in nature. It can be increased with bending, twisting, standing, or walking. Usually there isn't numbness or tingling associated with this pain as it is not related to a pinched or irritated nerve. Facet joint steroid injections are performed to reduce the inflammation and swelling inside of the joint and to decrease the pain associated with this inflammation. These are performed using fluoroscopy, a specific type of x-ray machine, to help accurately locate the joint or joints being injected.