Facet overgrowth refers to the development of extra bone or osteophytes, in the spinal column that frequently leads to neck or back pain. Also known as bone spurs, facet overgrowth occurs as a result of arthritis and is the body’s response to bone-on-bone contact. Like all other joints in the body, the vertebral joints in the spine are susceptible to deterioration over time. Eventually, the cartilage-coated joints begin to break down and the cartilage wears away, causing the facet joints to grind together. Facet overgrowth builds as a result of this arthritis and can come into contact with spinal nerves, which leads to chronic pain and pain-related symptoms.
Treatment options for bone spurs
Treatment of facet overgrowth can be difficult because the facet joint has become arthritic and degenerated. In most cases, a physician will first attempt to manage a patient’s pain with a variety of non-surgical treatment options, such as:
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
• Muscle relaxants
• Heat packs
• Corticosteroid injections
• Low-impact exercise to take pressure off of the compressed nerve
• Massage to relax the muscles in the neck or back
There is no known cure for arthritis, but if a patient continues to experience prolonged (chronic) pain from the facet overgrowth, a physician may recommend surgical excision. During spine surgery, an orthopedic surgeon accesses the deteriorated facet joint and will remove the facet overgrowth to decompress the nerve.
Facet thermal ablation
Another option for patients with painful facet overgrowth is to contact USA Spine Care to learn about facet thermal ablation, a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure we offer for patients experiencing degeneration of the facet joint. During this procedure, a spine surgeon cleans out the facet joint and carefully deadens the nerve in the joint to alleviate the pain. To learn more about facet thermal ablation and our other minimally invasive procedures, contact us today.