The facet joints are the connections between the vertebrae in the spine that give the spine its mobility so that you can bend and twist. Like other joints, facet joints can degenerate, become inflamed or otherwise damaged and cause significant discomfort, limited mobility, and pain. Aging and obesity can be factors in facet joint syndrome, but it can also occur in otherwise physically fit people who have sustained an injury or disease in the area. Facet joint syndrome can develop in active people who have engaged in heavy physical labor or active sports or other forms of strenuous exercise. The pain from this condition can become so severe as to be debilitating. The specialists at Chapman Spine and Orthopedic Institute are familiar with this condition and know that successful treatment plans must be individualized due to the variety of factors that can bring it on.
Facet Joint Syndrome Diagnosis and Treatment
A syndrome is a group of symptoms which together indicate a particular condition. Some additional symptoms of facet joint syndrome include difficulty standing up straight, stiffness, difficulty in twisting the body right or left, and a deep dull ache instead of sharp pain. When diagnosing facet joint syndrome, a complete medical history is done along with several imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scan and/or MRI scans of the spine. These tests help to rule out other disorders such as a fractured vertebra or herniated disc that have similar symptoms. A facet joint block may be used as a diagnostic tool as a definitive way to isolate the cause of pain. If pain persists when the suspect nerve is numbed, it is unlikely that the facet joint is the source of the pain.
Treatment plans are always tailored to the unique individual. Options include medication to relieve inflammation and non-drug treatment to stimulate blood flow and healing. Such treatments as hot packs, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and therapeutic exercises are frequently successful. Yoga and relaxation therapies and lifestyle changes are sometimes recommended. If pain persists, a surgical procedure that destroys the nerve causing the pain can provide lasting relief.
In all cases, treatment options must take into account the comfort and well-being of the patient and be tailored specifically for that person’s success. There is no one-size-fits-all remedy. Our specialists can work with you to evolve a treatment program for you that will take you towards the best outcome possible.
Contact Chapman Spine and Orthopedic Institute if you have facet joint syndrome or are experiencing the symptoms of this condition.