Does Facet Disease Cause Back Pain?

What is Facet Disease?

Facet disease, also called spinal arthritis, is a breakdown of the facet joints, which are located behind the spinal vertebrae, linking them together. The function of these joints allows for a range of motion and flexibility in the spine and is vital to any movement that requires the back to bend or twist, such as leaning forward or turning to look behind yourself. 

It is estimated that the average spine undergoes more than one million bending, twisting, and turning motions each year. As a result of this continual wear and tear on the facet joints and their protective cartilage, conditions like facet disease develop. You can educate yourself further on why facet joints are prone to degeneration by reviewing our facet disease causes page.

Facet Disease Symptoms

Common symptoms of deteriorating facet joints include: 

  • Pain in the affected joint and nearby regions of the neck or back
  • Stiffness and inflexibility
  • Creaking and popping sensations, known as crepitus

Other symptoms of facet disease are generally associated with nerve compression and are felt in different areas of the neck or back, depending upon the affected vertebrae. These symptoms generally include pain, stiffness, and tenderness. For example, if the breakdown occurs in the lower back, pain may radiate down through the buttocks, hip, and upper leg. These symptoms are very similar to those associated with a fracture, torn muscle, or herniated disc, so facet disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.

Diagnosing and Treating Spine Conditions

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek a proper diagnosis from a healthcare provider. They can determine whether your discomfort is caused by facet disease and recommend appropriate treatment options. Conservative treatment options can include exercise, medication, rest, hot and cold compression therapy, and posture correction. 

In some cases, surgery can be recommended to decompress a spinal nerve affected by facet disease, especially if conservative treatments are not effective in relieving symptoms and restoring lost range of motion after being fully explored. 

BEST Health System is a modern ambulatory center with medical professionals specializing in spine and orthopaedics. We offer minimally invasive procedures and conservative therapies. Are you looking for relief without the need for invasive surgery? Contact BEST today.