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Cervical Facet Injection

A cervical facet injection is a simple procedure used to treat neck and shoulder pain and headaches. The soft membrane (outer covering) that surrounds the facet joints can become inflamed or damaged as a result of injury,e.g. whiplash injury,or wear and tear (degeneration). When the joints are inflamed or damaged, the nearby muscles become irritated and go into spasm or cramp which reduces movement in your neck.

Cervical facet joint injections bathe the joints in local anaesthetic and steroid solution to reduce pain from inflamed joints and relax the surrounding muscles to allow movement again.

Facet joint injections will reduce your pain and improve your mobility for a period of weeks or months, only for the pain to return. Physiotherapy treatment is essential following a cervical injection as it will maximise the benefits of the procedure and reduce the risk of re-injury and the pain from resurfacing.

Mobilisations of the cervical vertebrea by a specialist therapistAbove: Mobilisations of the cervical vertebrea by a specialist therapist

Symptoms following a cervical injection

You may experience some pain as the local anaesthetic wears off. Pain relief can take up to 3 - 5 days, however, some patients experience improvement before or after this time period.

Physiotherapy following a cervical injection

Physiotherapy treatment at is essential following your cervical injection. Your physiotherapist will support and advise you throughout your rehabilitation programmeto help prevent the problem happening again. If successful, this treatment can avoid the need for surgery.

The injection will reduce the pain to provide an ideal platform for physiotherapy treatment to help you regain flexibility and improve strength and ability to move around effectively.

Physiotherapy treatment will aim to:
  • Maximise the benefits of the injection by targeting the joints and muscles as the pain is settling.
  • Teach you ways to self manage your condition and control symptoms
  • Improve ability to move during everyday activities such as driving, lifting and reaching.
  • Improve your muscle strength and flexibility
  • Improve your posture when walking, sitting and sleeping.
  • Return you to activities you enjoy

1-2 weeks

In the first couple of weeks following your injection your physiotherapist at, will determine how your current symptoms are affecting everyday activities and a structured treatment programme will be developed. This programme will be tailored to you in order to maximise your rehabilitation potential and prevent further injury. A progressive exercise program will also be introduced to help maximize your range of movement, stabilisation, coordination, and fitness conditioning. Physiotherapy may include:
  • Active and passive range of movement exercises
  • Stretching soft tissue to improve length
  • Soft tissue massage to reducespasm by helping muscles relax
  • Pain management
  • Advice about positioning – to increase comfort and take pressure off the affected area by supporting your neck in lying and sitting.
  • Advice about careful movements – will reduce pain and improve your confidence with movement.

2-6 weeks

Your physiotherapist at this stage will begin to improve ways to strengthen the muscles in your neck and continue to increase flexibility.Physiotherapy treatment may include:
  • Continuation of active range of movement exercises to strengthen the muscles in your back
  • Graded joint mobilisationto help lubricate joint surfaces, easing stiffness and reducing pain.
  • Fitness conditioning such as walking, swimming and stationary cycling to improve general fitness
  • Ergonomic assessment to assist the way you move at home or at work and preventing further problems.

6-12 weeks

During this stage in your recovery your physiotherapist at will continue with previous exercises to keep strengthening the muscles in your neck whilst incorporating recreational and functional activities important to you. Physiotherapy treatment at this stage may include:
  • Isometric exercises to maintain the strength of the neck muscles and reduce chance of re-injury.
  • Stretching through range to increase muscle length
  • Continued aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming and stationary cycling
  • Exercises that are specific to your functional and sporting activities

12 + weeks

Physiotherapy treatment 3 months following your injection will continue to optimise the strength and mobility of your neck through a combination of exercise, hands-on techniques and advice and support. You will see marked improvements in your pain, flexibility, strength and function. Your physiotherapist at this stage will focus on:
  • Achieving full range of movement
  • Strengthening exercises through range
  • Functional training
  • Long term management
A structured rehabilitation program at following your cervical injection is crucial to gain the best possible results and prevent further problems. Physiotherapy will regain pain free movement as well as improve muscle strength and function allowing you to continue with the activities you enjoy the most. Call now on 0330 088 7800 for more information or to book an appointment please contact us.

Read more about our Consultant Led Injection Services.

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