Facet joints medically referred to as zygapophysial joints or z-joints, are located on each side of the back of the spine. This provides the spine stability and allows it to bend and twist. The facet joint contains cartilage between the bones and is surrounded by a capsule containing synovial fluid. The two main reasons for facet-joint injections are a diagnosis, determining the source of pain, or therapy, to treat a detected abnormality. Schedule an appointment with a spine surgeon in Nassau County at New York Orthopaedic Spinal Associates if you are experiencing ongoing lower back pain.


Back pain can improve within a few weeks with options including rest, physical therapy, exercise, and medications, but when the pain is six weeks ongoing, your practitioner may order diagnostic tests to evaluate the spine’s structure. Problems, such as inflammation and arthritis, in the facet joints, may appear on the diagnostic imaging and may even be a contributing factor to an individual’s back pain, however, “normal appearing joints” on the imaging does not rule out facet joints as the source of joints completely.

An injection may be performed to truly determine if the facet joint is the source of pain. If the pain is reduced or relieved after an anesthetic is injected into the joint or surrounding nerve, the facet joint may be the source of pain. If that’s the case, our spine surgeon in Nassau County may also inject a corticosteroid or steroid to prolong pain relief.


As these injections are usually offered as a last resort when all else fails, they may be used for conditions where the joints become susceptible for pain, such as:

  • Lumbar facet syndrome
  • Spondylolysis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Trauma such as car accidents or sports/work involving “repetitive forceful hyperextensions”


Compared to other alternatives, facet-joint injections act as a non-invasive tool to confirm the facet joint is, in fact, the source behind a patient’s lumbar pain. Combined with physical therapy and medication, this treatment option can reduce inflammation, which in turn, can improve an individual’s function and overall quality of life without the need for invasive back surgery. Studies have found facet-joint injections to have immediate, long-lasting low-back pain relief. Also, these injections act as both a diagnostic tool and a therapeutic treatment option. If you believe your facet joints may be the source of your lower back pain, call our spine surgeon in Nassau County for confirmation.