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Facet syndrome treatment: conservative therapy or surgery?

Facet syndrome treatment does not necessarily mean surgery. In fact, after confirming a diagnosis of facet joint syndrome, a doctor will likely recommend conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy and epidural steroid injections to treat the symptoms. A well-rounded therapeutic program can ease pain and inflammation, enhance mobility and strength, and help you perform daily activities with greater ease.

Why facet syndrome treatment may become necessary

The hardworking facet joints serve as connectors of the vertebrae, which are the bones that support and stabilize the spine. Similar to other joints throughout the body, each facet joint is lined with smooth cartilage and lubricating fluid. These essential components allow the ends of the bones that meet in the joint to glide smoothly over each other through a wide range of constant and repetitive motion.

As spinal nerve roots branch away from the spinal cord to reach other areas of the body, they must pass through narrow passageways near the facet joints. If a facet joint becomes inflamed due to injury, arthritis or other degenerative changes, these small tunnels can become narrowed — this can in turn inhibit joint mobility and create painful pressure on a nearby nerve root. The resulting pain and stiffness can make it difficult for an individual to stand or walk without hunching or to get in and out of a car. If these symptoms are severe, facet syndrome treatment may be recommended.

Treatment options for facet syndrome

Typically, facet syndrome treatment begins conservatively. In addition to basic treatments like rest, hot and cold compression and over-the-counter medication, you may also be recommended to see a physical therapist. He or she can perform techniques designed to restore range of motion and relieve pain stemming from restricted facet joints. Additionally, many patients are able to find relief through the following methods:

  • Posture correction
  • Weight management and nutritional counseling
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Injection of a numbing medication and cortisone into the affected facet joint to reduce pain and inflammation

When to consider surgery for facet syndrome treatment

Surgery is usually considered as a serious option only if the pain associated with facet syndrome persists or worsens despite pursuing conservative treatment for a period of time agreed on by you and your doctor. Patients are often reluctant to undergo surgery, and deal with pain for years, due to the highly invasive nature of traditional open spine procedures. As a safer and effective alternative, USA Spine Care provides minimally invasive spine surgery that offers our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.

To learn more and to request a no-cost MRI review that can help determine if you are a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures* contact USA Spine Care today.

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