Facet joint treatment may be necessary when the joints in the spine deteriorate enough to cause back pain or stiffness. Each vertebra has two sets of facet joint surfaces, one on top and one on bottom, which connect the vertebrae and allow for flexibility. These joints are coated with cartilage and lubricated with a thick fluid so that they move against each other without friction. However, like other joints in the body, facet joints are prone to damage as a result of the natural aging process.
When this happens, a number of painful symptoms can develop. If you have been living with chronic pain and limited mobility from facet joint disease or a related condition, you may be glad to know that there are treatment options to get you back to a previous level of activity. Getting information about the full range of available therapy can help you and your doctor develop a plan with the best chance of finding you meaningful pain relief.
Specific facet joint treatment methods
Facet joint treatment is generally first attempted with a course of conservative options. After diagnosis — usually with the help of imagery such as an MRI or CT scan — a physician will prescribe treatment based on your individual medical history and condition. Although recommended treatments can vary, there are some common methods that are effective for a range of spine issues, including facet disease. Options include:
- Application of heat packs and cold packs
- Physical therapy and exercise
- Prescription or over-the-counter pain medication
- Chiropractic treatment
- Neck brace, back brace or special pillows
- Facet joint injections of numbing medicine and an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, which can both relieve symptoms and help pinpoint the location of facet disease
Minimally invasive spine surgery
Many patients are able to find acceptable relief and a return to mobility with conservative treatments, but sometimes weeks or months can go by and symptoms stay the same or even get worse. If there hasn’t been enough progress from initial treatment, it may be time to explore surgical options.
Doctors and patients alike view traditional open spine surgery as a last-resort treatment because there are so many risks and difficulties that go with it, including hospitalization, scarring, blood loss and a long rehabilitation.
USA Spine Care provides an alternative in the form of minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery. By using smaller muscle-sparing incisions, we can effectively treat the symptoms of facet joint disease and spinal arthritis at the source and still offer our patients a shorter recovery time and less scarring^ than traditional open back procedures. For more information and to receive your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate, contact USA Spine Care today.