C1-C2 intra-articular injections are done to reduce pain originating from the C1-C2 joint of the cervical spine. This joint is located just below the cranium.
The C1-C2 joint may be the origin of headaches and upper cervical pain. An injection is the only way to confirm the source of the pain. It is also an effective treatment method.
Results are satisfactory when the pain originates from the C1-C2 joint. However, the relief may only be temporary.
The physician uses fluoroscopy (radiography) to identify the position of the C1-C2 joint. After disinfecting the skin, he uses fluoroscopic guidance to direct the needle to the C1-C2 joint. A very small amount of contrast agent is injected to ensure the needle is properly positioned. A solution, usually a mixture of cortisone and a local anesthetic, is then injected into the joint. Following the procedure, the patient returns to the recovery room for about 20 minutes to confirm there is no allergic reaction to the injected substances.
Pain may increase anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours following the injection. Applying ice and taking an analgesic help to reduce pain. Facial flushing (heat and redness) may occur in the first 48 hours and is a side effect, not an allergic reaction. Women’s menstrual cycle may be disrupted.
Complications are essentially related to the injection, the anatomy involved and the substances injected. Using radiography to confirm the injection’s pathway enhances the safety of the procedure. The risks of complications, such as infection or hemorrhaging, are the same as for any other type of injection, and are quite rare.
Use of anticoagulants and Plavix must be stopped before the procedure. The patient’s prescribing physician must authorize a temporary pause of these medications. Fluoroscopic-guided injections are contraindicated during pregnancy. Report all allergies to medications or contrast agents to the physician. People with diabetes may experience increased blood-sugar levels for a few days.