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Five signs that may indicate facet syndrome

Facet syndrome, or spinal osteoarthritis, is a condition that can occur when the smooth cartilage that lines the facet joints deteriorates. The facet joints serve as the connectors for the vertebrae in the spine, and when functioning correctly, they allow the vertebrae to glide across each other as the spine bends and twists. When the cartilage in the joints wears away and bone grinds against bone, the result is often inflammation and other bothersome symptoms.

Like most cases of osteoarthritis in other areas of the body, facet syndrome is usually the result of age-related degeneration due to wear and tear on the spine. In some cases, traumatic injuries or jobs that require frequent heavy lifting can accelerate the deterioration of the facet joints.

Facet syndrome symptoms

One way to tell if you are suffering from facet syndrome is to look for any of the symptoms that are commonly associated with this condition. They include:

  • Tenderness in the inflamed joint
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty with twisting movements
  • Localized pain

Additionally, facet syndrome can sometimes cause the formation of bone spurs, which can put pressure on the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root. When this occurs, additional symptoms can include:

  • Pain that radiates to other areas of the body
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling
  • Numbness

Know your treatment options

Fortunately, many individuals who have been diagnosed with facet syndrome are able to manage their symptoms through nonsurgical treatments. While a physician may recommend a combination of conservative therapies including pain and anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and regular exercise, you may also want to incorporate alternative treatments. Some options include yoga, chiropractic manipulation, massage therapy and acupuncture.

If you attempt conservative and alternative facet syndrome treatments for several weeks or months and your symptoms persist, you may need to consider spine surgery. While some physicians recommend open neck or back surgery, USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive spine surgery that is often the clinically appropriate first choice and provides many advantages over open spine surgery.^ If you are interested in learning more about the outpatient procedures we perform to treat a wide variety of degenerative spine conditions, contact USA Spine Care today.

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