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Facet syndrome: learn about the symptoms and treatment options

Facet syndrome, also sometimes called facet disease or osteoarthritis of the spine, occurs when the facet joints that connect vertebrae break down. The facet joints act as hinges to allow movement in the spine. Due to the effects of aging, combined with the continuous bending, turning and twisting of the spine, the protective layer of cartilage can begin to wear away. When this happens, the joints rub together with no protective padding, which can result in pain and inflammation.

Facet syndrome symptoms

Facet syndrome most commonly develops in the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) areas of the spine, as these areas are relative flexible and bear the most weight. Regardless of where it occurs, facet syndrome may cause a number of symptoms, such as:

  • Localized pain in the area of the affected joint
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Inflammation

Additionally, facet syndrome can lead to the development of bone spurs, or small growths of excess bone that are formed as the body’s attempt to stabilize a degenerating joint. When a bone spur presses on a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord, patients may experience chronic neck or back pain along with numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Facet syndrome treatment

Doctors almost always first recommend conservative nonsurgical treatments to relieve the symptoms of facet syndrome. This can include one or more of the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Pain medication
  • Hot/cold therapy

In addition, some patients try alternative or complementary treatments to ease their facet syndrome symptoms, such as:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Acupuncture

Many patients are able to find relief from their pain through the use of nonsurgical treatments, but they don’t work for everyone. If facet syndrome symptoms persist after fully attempting conservative treatment, surgery may be the best option. At USA Spine Care, our surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery to treat facet syndrome and other degenerative spine conditions. Our surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis and are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine procedures.

If you are suffering from facet syndrome and would like to find out if you’re a potential candidate for minimally invasive outpatient surgery at USA Spine Care, contact us today and ask for your no-cost MRI review.*

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