Facet disease is a condition that affects the facet joints of the spine — the joints that connect the vertebrae and allow the spine to hinge. Facet disease develops when the protective layer of cartilage on the joint wears down, exposing the joint to the vertebrae without any cushion. As the vertebrae continue to hinge, the joint wears down and slowly deteriorates.
When the joint becomes damaged due to facet disease, continued wear can lead to potentially painful effects. The joint can become inflamed from the constant friction of the vertebral movement, causing arthritis of the spine to develop. This can also lead to bone spur growth — a smooth nub of cartilage that forms to help stabilize a worn joint.
Types of pain associated with facet disease
If the swelling in the facet joint or the bone spur formed next to the joint impacts a nearby nerve, painful symptoms can develop. The common symptoms of facet disease include:
- Joint stiffness
- Pain, dull at the site of the pinched nerve
- Radiating pain that travels from the pinched nerve down the nerve pathway
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Muscle weakness
- Delayed reflexes
- Pain and stiffness when standing or sitting for an extended amount of time
These symptoms often only develop if a nerve root is compressed. If a nerve is not pinched, then no symptoms will appear. If you begin to experience these symptoms, consult your doctor about being diagnosed for facet disease and the treatment options available to you.
Treatments available for facet disease
Many patients with facet disease will find relief through conservative treatments, like pain medication and physical therapy. Your doctor will recommend the series of conservative treatments that best align with your condition and medical history.
If you are recommended for spine surgery, USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive alternatives to traditional open neck and back surgery. Since 2005, our minimally invasive spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. To find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures, contact us today and request a no-cost MRI review.*
Browse Related Resources