Facet joints are an essential part of your spine’s structure, allowing you to twist, turn, bend and move. Located between the adjacent vertebrae of the spine, these joints are in constant motion and provide your spine with stability and flexibility.
A common cause of lower back pain is facet joint osteoarthritis, also called facet joint syndrome. If you struggle with back pain, this degenerative condition could be the cause.
At Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona, we specialize in treating patients who suffer from facet joint pain. With accurate diagnosis and a wide array of treatment plans, we can treat the source of your pain.
Facet joint syndrome is most commonly seen in adults over the age of 50. It occurs when the joints become worn or torn, leading to bone spurs, inflammation and painful symptoms.
Healthy facet joints contain cartilage lubricated with synovial fluid that acts as a buffer between your vertebrae. The joints enable these bones to move against each other without pinching or grinding. Whether due to aging or trauma, facet joints can become injured. The cartilage wears away, and continued pressure on the joints causes the discs between the vertebrae to wear down and potentially collapse.
When the space between your vertebrae is diminished and osteoarthritis progresses, the bones are left to rub against each other.
Small nerves travel from the spinal cord to your facet joints. When facet joint syndrome sets in, these medial branch nerves can make any movement incredibly uncomfortable or painful.
Pain or discomfort in your low back, buttocks or legs can be caused by facet joint syndrome in the lumbar spine. If this disorder occurs in your cervical spine, symptoms are commonly experienced in the neck, shoulders and arms.
Some of the symptoms linked to facet joint syndrome include:
Accurate diagnosis ensures that the expert spine doctors at DISC can provide you with your best treatment options. Communication is at the heart of what we do. We listen, and we ask. We get to know you as a unique individual, not just another patient.
As we assess your symptoms, conduct a physical examination and run diagnostic tests, we begin to understand your pain journey to identify if you have facet joint syndrome. We may also recommend our proprietary diagnostic technique called Personalized Pain Mapping to accurately diagnose the specific pain generator causing your spinal symptoms.
If you have facet joint syndrome, the board-certified surgeons at DISC will work tirelessly to develop a customized treatment plan based on your unique needs and lifestyle. We are experts in a full range of minimally invasive spine procedures. Many conservative treatment options can potentially bring significant relief, such as:
If conservative options are not enough, and your painful symptoms persist for more than three to six months, we may recommend an epidural steroid facet injection or medial branch diagnostic injection. These injections offer pain relief and often times pinpoints the pain generator in your back. If the pain is relieved we may offer a revolutionary long-term surgical option called an endoscopic rhizotomy.
Results of our endoscopic procedure have resulted in up to 5 years of back pain relief. If the pain in your low back becomes chronic or the facets become unstable we often recommend a lumbar spinal fusion, but only after exhausting our least invasive endoscopic spine surgery options.
If you’re struggling with facet joint syndrome and chronic pain that impacts your daily activities, work or quality of life, then it’s time to contact the team at DISC. We are doctors who treat facet joint syndrome at its source. Although we’re located in Arizona, patients come to us from all over the world to experience relief from their symptoms.