The facet joints are the joints found on either side of the lumbar spinal column. These joints perform several functions. They contribute to the twisting stability of the lower back and allow the vertebrae to comfortably slide over one another. However, the facet joints are susceptible to damage due to injury or disease, which often manifests as severe back pain. When the facet joints begin to degrade, the resulting condition is called facet syndrome.
Facet Syndrome Causes
A back specialist may diagnose facet syndrome as the result of any number of spinal disorders. Many times, this area of the spinal column can be injured by blunt trauma, such as when a person falls or is involved in a car accident. However, facet syndrome often stems from natural wear and tear over an extended period of time. The facet joints are in nearly constant motion, so they are prone to deteriorating with age.
Facet Syndrome Symptoms
Facet syndrome causes back pain that may be worse after twisting or stretching and in the morning. The facet joints have nerve bundles which can cause severe back pain when injured. In addition, as the facet joints wear down, so too does nearby cartilage. When the vertebrae no longer have the cushioning they need to effortlessly slide over each other, they may produce bone spurs. These structures can further intensify existing back pain.
Facet Syndrome Treatments
A back specialist can administer several treatments for the pain caused by facet syndrome, including facet joint blocks, oral medications, heat therapy, and cryotherapy. To address long-term recovery needs, a healthcare provider may prescribe physical therapy or surgical intervention, as well as body mechanics education to help patients learn what daily habits they should avoid to minimize their back pain.
Have you been diagnosed with facet syndrome? SpineOne offers comprehensive treatment options for facet syndrome, including physical therapy, facet joint blocks, and other minimally-invasive procedures. To learn more about the spinal disorders we can treat or to schedule a consultation with a back specialist, call our Denver-area clinic at (303) 367-2225.