Facet Join Syndrome 

What is Facet Joint Syndrome?

The spine is a complex structure comprising joints between each vertebrate. The facet joint is one such joint that enables twisting, flexing, and bending motions of the spine. The facet joints are tripod-like joints that hold the spine together and have a layer of cartilage in between them. The root nerve of the spine goes through the facet joints to other parts of the body. Facet joints have different formations in various regions of the spine – namely cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.

 

Pain is experienced by a person when these joints get inflamed, or the cartilage layer between them gets degenerated. The condition arising due to these reasons is called facet joint syndrome.

 

Factors Causing Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joint pain emanates from inflamed facet joints due to arthritis or injury. Sometimes, due to wear-and-tear or injury, the cartilage between the facet joints gets eroded exposing the facet joints. The degenerated cartilage provides less support to the bones which balance themselves against the relatively thin layer. This leads to a “slip disc” condition which is very painful and restricts motion.

 

Inflammation due to arthritis also causes facet joint syndrome. The degradation of the facet joints affects the motion of the spine making it stiff and painful. A degenerated facet joint can also compress nerves thereby leading to localized or referred pain.

 

 
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The Symptoms

Symptoms and impact areas of facet joint syndrome are dependent on the position of the joint that is affected; the number of facet joints affected also contributes to it. Symptoms can include:

  • Localized or referred pain depending on the facet joint region. Pain can be felt directly over the facet joints and the body parts in the vicinity if there is nerve compression.​

    • Neck and head pain for cervical facets

    • Middle back pain for thoracic facets

    • Glutes, thighs, and lower back pain for lumbar facets​

  • Stiffness in the back and facing extreme pain in movements like twisting, bending, or flexing of the spine.

  • The degenerated facet region might become sensitive to touch and pressure causing pain when pressed.

  • Arthritis may cause friction in the facet joints causing them to grind against one other.

Diagnosis and Treatment 

Our specialists at Dunes Pain Clinic perform an accurate diagnosis of the condition by doing a thorough physical examination of the patient’s pain areas. The physician will check the reflexes of your body, the strength of the muscles, and motion range by making you do certain movements. For a more detailed diagnosis, the patient might go through X-Rays and scans like MRI or CT-Scan.

A variety of non-surgical and surgical treatments might be used for treating this ailment. Physiotherapy might help you in regaining strength and flexibility of the back through various exercises, stretches, and posture correcting techniques. Conservative treatment methods like massage therapy or alternative methods like acupuncture might prove to be beneficial.

 

If you are facing severe discomfort then anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers, and pain killers can be prescribed to you for diminishing the symptoms. In severe cases, minimally invasive methods like radiofrequency ablation or facet block injections can be administered to provide relief to the patient.

A pain-free life is just a call away at Dunes Pain!