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Exercise can be an effective form of facet disease treatment. This common degenerative condition, which is also known as spinal osteoarthritis, develops when the small joints that connect the vertebrae begin to break down. These hardworking joints allow for the wide range of motion required for walking, sitting, bending and a host of other body positions and movements.
Facet disease does not always produce painful symptoms. But, when it does, low-impact exercise and other conservative treatments can be very helpful for addressing the resulting discomfort.
The role of exercise in facet disease treatment
A common conservative approach to treating neck and back pain, low-impact exercise can boost circulation, increase flexibility and strengthen the muscles that support the spine. While not considered to be a cure for facet disease, gentle physical activity can be a valuable part of an overall facet disease treatment plan to help a patient feel better. But, again, it cannot reverse arthritic changes that have already taken place in the spine or prevent further degeneration.
Because a patient who has a severely degenerated facet joint will likely find high-impact exercise to be painful, active facet disease treatment usually focuses on stretching exercises designed to strengthen the back muscles. Additionally, stretches that loosen overly tight muscles in the lower body can also be beneficial. Some stretches that may be appropriate for these purposes include:
- Back flexion stretch. Lie on your back with your legs straight. Pull your knees toward your chest and lift your head off the floor, then drop your chin to your chest. Tilt your head forward to lengthen your spine from the top. Hold for 15 seconds and release.
- Hamstring stretch. Sit on the floor, extend your left leg straight and place the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh. Bend forward and reach for your left foot. Hold for 15 seconds, then release and switch legs.
- Piriformis stretch. Lie on your back with your legs straight. Bring your right knee toward your left shoulder. Pull your right knee across your body and toward the floor. Hold for 15 seconds, then release and switch legs.
After confirming a diagnosis, a physician can recommend specific stretches as well as other facet disease treatment options to reduce pain and inflammation, enhance strength and mobility and ease performance of daily activities.
If surgery becomes necessary
Despite the potential effectiveness of exercise and other conservative treatments, some people ultimately require surgery to address facet disease. If a physician has recommended surgery for you, you should know that a traditional open spine procedure may not be your only option. For instance, USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive spine surgery for treating facet disease and other degenerative spine conditions.
If you’re currently exploring your facet disease treatment options and would like to find out if you’re a candidate for one of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures, contact us today and ask for a no-cost review of your recent MRI or CT scan.*
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