Spinal osteoarthritis, or facet disease, can develop when the cartilage in the spinal joints wears away to the point that the bones no longer glide smoothly against one another. While this condition is usually the natural result of years of wear and tear on the facet joints, its development can be accelerated by excess strain being placed on the spine due to obesity, frequent heavy lifting, participation in high-impact sports and more.
Localized pain, inflammation and back stiffness are common symptoms of facet disease. However, if constant friction in the joint leads to the development of a bone spur, additional symptoms such as radiating pain, muscle spasms, numbness and tingling can appear if the bone spur compresses a nearby nerve root.
In many cases, the pain and other symptoms related to facet disease can be reduced to an acceptable level by following a nonsurgical treatment plan for several weeks or months. If you are hoping to avoid facet disease surgery, here are some signs to look for:
- Your symptoms aren’t constant. If your symptoms come and go, your condition likely hasn’t progressed enough to require surgery.
- You are overweight. Carrying excess pounds can greatly increase the strain on the spine. Losing weight could provide symptom relief.
- Your symptoms are only severe when you exercise. High-impact exercise can increase the pain and inflammation facet disease causes. Switching to low-impact exercises, as recommended by a doctor, could provide immediate relief.
- You lead a sedentary lifestyle. Regular exercise is an important part of spine health. Strengthening the muscles that support the spine can provide significant symptom relief.
- You haven’t followed your conservative treatment plan. It’s important that you attempt all of your doctor’s suggestions for several weeks or months to give your conservative treatment regimen a fair chance to produce results.
Fortunately, many patients will experience symptom relief and be able to return to a normal day-to-day lifestyle after making lifestyle modifications and following a conservative treatment plan for several weeks or months. If your case is more severe, however, your symptoms may worsen as time passes and you may want to consider surgery. At USA Spine Care, we can provide you with a free MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive facet disease surgery. Our outpatient procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^
Contact USA Spine Care today if you would like additional information about minimally invasive surgery as a treatment method for a wide range of degenerative spine conditions, including facet disease.
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