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A complete guide to facet syndrome

Facet syndrome is known by many names, including facet joint disease, facet disease and degenerative joint disease. No matter what you choose call it, these terms all describe osteoarthritis of the facet joints. Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that can develop as the soft tissue around the joints wears away from years of use. Each of the vertebrae in the spine creates two facet joints, which allow for spinal stability and movements like twisting and bending. When one or more of these joints degenerates, it can cause neck and back pain as well as other unpleasant symptoms.

Types of facet syndrome and their symptoms

Facet syndrome can be categorized into different types, based on the location along the spine where it occurs. The location also determines where symptoms will be felt. The different types include:

  • Lumbar — occurs in the lower back, with symptoms that may affect the buttocks, hips, legs and feet
  • Thoracic — occurs in the middle back, with symptoms in the torso
  • Cervical — occurs in the neck, with symptoms that may affect the upper back, shoulders, arms and hands

Common symptoms of facet syndrome include joint pain, tenderness and inflammation around the affected joint, achiness, stiffness and difficulty twisting or doing certain movements that involve the spine. A physician will be able to run diagnostic tests to confirm the condition.

Facet syndrome treatment

After being diagnosed with facet syndrome, you’ll have a number of conservative treatment options that may help with symptom relief. These include:

  • Physical therapy, low-impact exercises and stretching techniques
  • Over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory pain medications
  • Lifestyle modifications like losing weight and quitting smoking
  • Hot and cold compresses

Some individuals also find that options like chiropractic care, yoga, therapeutic massage, acupuncture and other alternative therapies are helpful in relieving symptoms, but it is important to consider these options in partnership with a doctor. In most cases, conservative measures sufficiently manage symptoms.

In more severe cases of facet syndrome, however, surgery may be required to decompress or stabilize the spine. When surgery is recommended, many patients choose minimally invasive surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ At USA Spine Care, we specialize in minimally invasive techniques and have used them to help more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain caused by various spinal conditions.

If you’d like to find out if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery at USA Spine Care to treat facet syndrome, contact us today for a no-cost MRI review.*

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