The spinal facet joints connect the vertebrae together, giving the spine both stability and range of motion. These joints grow off the back of each vertebra and connect to adjacent bones like a hinge. Like any joint in our bodies, facet joints deteriorate with age. This means that the cartilage covering the joint can become brittle and wear away.
With padding gone, neck and back movements force bone to grind against bone causing joint inflammation or osteoarthritis. Because a facet joint is full of nerve fibers, these joints are especially vulnerable to discomfort. In addition to local pain, it is also possible for facet joint degeneration to cause a pinched nerve in the spine, which can lead to painful symptoms that radiate to other regions of the body.
Chronic neck or back pain related to the facet joints can be debilitating and take you away from loved ones and your favorite activities. Learning about the specific symptoms and methods of treatment for joint degeneration through the following article can offer you the best chance of finding relief from facet disease so you can get back to the life you’ve been missing.
Symptoms of facet joint disease
When a spinal joint becomes arthritic, it can cause many problems. The joint linings exist to provide smooth motion, so when they deteriorate it can cause both pain and limited mobility as the joints are put under friction that they were not designed to withstand. One product of this friction can be bone spurs, which are the body’s natural attempt to stabilize ends that are grinding against each other.
Bone spurs can cause pinched nerves because the spine has many nerves traveling through such a tightly constructed region. Here are some of the most commonly experienced symptoms related to arthritis of the facet joints:
- Local pain
- Joint stiffness
- Bone-on-bone contact during movement
- Radiating symptoms of tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the hips, buttocks, legs and feet caused by nerve compression in the lower spine
- Radiating symptoms of tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands caused by nerve compression in the upper spine
Treatment options for facet joint disease
If your doctor has diagnosed you with facet joint arthritis, facet joint syndrome, facet joint degeneration or another condition involving the facet joints, the first step is usually a round of conservative treatment. Doctors will recommend treatments such as anti-inflammatories, pain medication, physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation and cortisone injections to treat these conditions. Surgery will usually become an option when conservative treatments have been exhausted.
Traditional open back surgery comes with many difficulties, including scarring, blood loss, a hospital stay between two to five days and a long recovery period between six months to a year. USA Spine Care’s minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures^ because our board-certified surgeons+ use smaller incisions that spare supporting muscles, leading to less surgical blood loss as well as a reduced risk of infection and complication for our patients.^ Please contact us today for more information on our minimally invasive procedures.
Our outpatient procedures have helped thousands of patients find lasting relief from their chronic neck or back conditions, such as facet joint disease. Reach out to our dedicated team today for a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure performed at one of our state-of-the-art surgery centers around the country. We can help you rediscover your life from this condition.
Browse Related Resources