Facet syndrome is a degenerative spinal condition that affects the small joints located behind and between the vertebrae. These hardworking joints allow the spine to bend, twist and flex while limiting its motion to a safe range.
Each facet joint is lined with protective cartilage and lubricated with synovial fluid, which help the bones within the joint to move smoothly against each other. Ongoing wear and tear, spinal osteoarthritis or a traumatic injury can damage the facet joints, sometimes leading to chronic pain. This condition is known as facet syndrome.
Symptoms of facet syndrome
The pain associated with facet syndrome is often very similar to the discomfort caused by other spinal conditions, such as degenerative disc disease. Consider that the spine is a highly intricate structure that comprises many interconnected parts, including the vertebrae, discs, muscles, ligaments and nerves, all of which work together to provide the body with support, balance, mobility and sensation. Therefore, its inherent complexity can make it challenging to pinpoint the precise cause of back pain.
With that said, some signs to pay attention to include:
- A dull ache in one or both sides of the lower back
- Low back pain that worsens when standing, bending backward or twisting from the waist
- Low back pain that improves when the spine is in a bent-forward (flexion) position
- Low back pain that travels down one or both legs
If you’re wondering whether your discomfort is related to facet syndrome, your best source of information is a physician who can evaluate your symptoms, perform an examination and, if facet syndrome is suspected, administer diagnostic spinal injections to confirm a diagnosis.
If you are experiencing possible symptoms of facet syndrome, an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can enhance your quality of life. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your physician may recommend a well-rounded rehabilitation program to alleviate your pain and inflammation and to improve your mobility and strength. Physical therapy may also include the application of ice to decrease blood flow and reduce swelling in an affected area. For severe pain, a corticosteroid injection may provide temporary relief that lasts for several weeks or months.
In the event that conservative treatments like these prove to be insufficient, surgery may become an option. The surgeons at USA Spine Care perform minimally invasive surgery to address facet syndrome, and one of our procedures may be an appropriate next step in your treatment. You can feel confident in our team of highly skilled neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, who have collectively helped more than 75,000 patients to date.
If you’d like to find out if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive outpatient surgery at USA Spine Care, contact us today.
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