Facet disease, or spinal osteoarthritis, is a condition caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage in the spinal column that can lead to bone-on-bone friction and joint inflammation. Upon diagnosis, most doctors will recommend a course of conservative treatment options, such as anti-inflammatory medication, hot and cold therapy and light exercise to relieve symptoms. Many patients also attempt alternative treatments that are outside the medical mainstream to complement their existing treatment.
While there is not a consensus among doctors and medical researchers about the effectiveness of these methods, some people with facet disease and other spine conditions do report finding relief with alternative therapies. If you do pursue any new forms of treatment, it is important to keep your doctor informed to ensure it is compatible with your existing care.
Alternative treatments for facet disease
Here are some of the alternative treatments for facet disease that many patients attempt:
- Herbal remedies. Many patients with facet disease turn to herbal supplements due to some evidence of anti-inflammatory properties in these natural substances. For example, capsicum is often taken by people with osteoarthritis because it is thought to help relieve pain and inflammation that occurs in degenerating joints.
- Restorative yoga. By focusing on breathing, along with gentle stretching and strengthening, yoga can potentially improve facet disease symptoms. Stretching exercises help to elongate the spine, which relieves pressure on the damaged facet joints. Likewise, yoga’s strengthening exercises build muscles around the spine which support it and help the facet joints to perform their role more efficiently.
- Acupuncture. A licensed and reputable acupuncturist can carefully insert thin needles in specific areas around the body. Although rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, there is some modern evidence that acupuncture can relieve symptoms of conditions like facet disease by stimulating blood flow and releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever.
- Massage. Therapeutic massage can help to relax tense muscles and stimulate blood flow to the spine. This can improve mobility, relieve tension-related discomfort and potentially improve the long-term health of the spine.
Treatments for more severe cases of facet disease
When facet disease progresses to the point where conservative and alternative treatments no longer relieve symptoms, patients may be advised to consider surgery for more lasting relief. Facet joint disease surgery can include procedures to remove bone spurs and damaged discs that are compressing spinal nerves. However, traditional open spine procedures typically require a large incision, overnight hospitalization and a long recovery period. As an alternative to traditional procedures, the board-certified surgeons+ at USA Spine Care perform minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis with a less than 1-inch incision, leading to many benefits for our patients.
To learn more, reach out to our caring and dedicated team today and ask for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.