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Atlanto-occipital and Atlanto-axial Joint Injection

What is it?

The atlanto-axial joint is formed by the two highest neck vertebrae and it is a common cause of neck pain. The pain typically starts at the base of the scalp and can radiate to behind the eye. The atlanto-occipital joint is the joint between the skull and the highest neck vertebrae. It is a less common cause of upper neck pain and headache associated with rotation of the head.

How it is performed

X-ray is used to help guide a needle to the joint space.

What patients are candidates?

Patients who have pain secondary to the joint involvement described above are good candidates for this injection.

How long does the procedure take?

20 – 30 min


Following the injection, the patient may be monitored for 20-30 min before being discharged to go home. Patients are usually asked to rest on the day of the injection.