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Facet disease symptoms and diagnosis

Facet disease, also known as osteoarthritis of the spine, is characterized by the deterioration of the cartilage that lines the joints in the spine (called facet joints). Without cartilage as protective padding, the bones that make up the spine’s facet joints may grind against each other, resulting in stiffness, pain and inflammation, among other symptoms.

Facet disease symptoms

Facet disease symptoms can range in severity from slight discomfort to debilitating pain. The inflammation of the facet joints alone may cause stiffness in the neck and back, aching and warmth surrounding the inflamed joint.

Additionally, the friction that occurs when the bones in the facet joints rub together may trigger the growth of bone spurs. In the event that a bone spur compresses a nerve root or the spinal cord, symptoms of radiculopathy and myelopathy can occur, which include:

  • Radiating pain
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of fine motor skills

Facet disease diagnosis

The first step to arriving at an accurate facet disease diagnosis is scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician, who will listen to you describe your symptoms, look closely at your medical history and perform a series of tests to check your nerve function and range of motion. If necessary, he or she may also order an X-ray, CT scan or MRI to get a more comprehensive look at your spine.

Once it has been determined that you are suffering from the symptoms of facet disease, you and your physician can work to determine a course of treatment that will work for you. Usually, treatment begins with a range of conservative methods, which may include pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication, hot/cold therapy and physical therapy.

Some patients also utilize a variety of alternative methods of treatment, such as chiropractic care, massage therapy and acupuncture, to relieve their facet disease symptoms. In the event that several months of conservative and alternative treatment are not effective in managing your symptoms, your physician may recommend surgery.

Before subjecting yourself to the lengthy recovery time and risk of infection associated with traditional open spine surgery, consult with the experts at USA Spine Care. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons+ perform procedures that are often the clinically appropriate first choice over traditional open-spine surgery.

To discuss the benefits of our procedures with one of our experienced physicians, contact USA Spine Care today. We can also provide you with a no-cost review* of your MRI to determine if you are a candidate for our procedures.

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