Facet Syndrome – Overview

What is Facet Syndrome?

Facet joint syndrome is another term for osteoarthritis of the spinal facet joints. This condition involves joint inflammation caused by the wearing away of protective cartilage. Although mainly caused by aging, other factors can contribute to facet joint syndrome. This can include poor posture, injury, and carrying extra weight.

Learning more about this condition can help you be more involved in your treatment process. This is not reversible, but treatment that can provide lasting relief from facet syndrome symptoms. The following information can help you work more closely with your doctor to develop a treatment plan. This will provide you with the best chance of returning you to the life you deserve.

Facet Syndrome Symptoms

As we age, the protective cartilage that coats the joints can become dry and brittle, causing it to wear away and expose the connecting bones to direct contact. This friction can cause the joints, such as the facet joints in the spine, to become swollen and inflamed, leading to the following conditions:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness and difficulty rotating or bending the neck or lower back
  • A deep, dull aching
  • Headaches

In addition to local pain and stiffness, it’s also possible for a swollen joint or a related bone spur to compress a spinal nerve. This can result in radiating facet syndrome symptoms like burning pain, cramping, numbness and muscle weakness in the extremities. This condition typically affects the more flexible areas of the spine, which include the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions. Cervical facet joint syndrome can cause patients to experience discomfort in the neck, shoulders and hands, while lumbar facet joint syndrome can produce symptoms in the lower back, hips, buttocks and thighs.

Facet Syndrome Treatment

Patients diagnosed with this condition can often find relief with the help of doctor-prescribed conservative facet syndrome treatments such as posture correction, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication. A physician or spine specialist may recommend surgery for patients who don’t find necessary relief after several weeks or months of a conservative facet syndrome treatment plan.

While traditional open neck or back surgery presents several risks, such as failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) and infection, minimally invasive spine surgery at BEST Health System is a safer and effective alternative. Our highly skilled team of surgeons access the spine using a less than 1-inch incision, which helps to spare muscles and allow our procedures to be performed on an outpatient basis.

BEST Health System

If you are interested in learning more about treatment with BEST, contact us today. Our dedicated team aims to ensure all patients are receiving the BEST possible care.