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Facet joint syndrome – symptoms and treatments

Facet joint syndrome symptoms can be very disruptive to your everyday life, making it difficult to get through a day at work, enjoy time with loved ones or get a good night’s sleep. This condition is a type of osteoarthritis that affects the facet joints which link the vertebrae and allow for basic movement.

The exact symptoms of facet joint syndrome vary depending on the location of the affected spinal joint. The cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions are most commonly affected by facet joint syndrome since these areas of the spine are considerably more flexible than the thoracic (middle) spine. Whether or not you have been diagnosed with this condition, learning more about the symptoms of facet joint syndrome can help you better understand the nature of your condition as you work with your doctor to find effective treatment.


Symptoms of facet joint syndrome usually either occur as local aches and stiffness caused directly by the inflamed joints or radiating symptoms caused by a compressed spinal nerve. The location of the affected joint will determine the location of symptoms being experienced. For example, cervical facet joint syndrome may cause the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Discomfort in the shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Tingling, numbness and weakness in the arms and hands

While patients with lumbar facet joint syndrome may experience:

  • Lower back pain and stiffness
  • Difficulty twisting, bending and arching
  • Pain, cramping and weakness in the buttocks or thighs
  • Trouble getting out of a chair
  • Difficulty standing up straight

Treatment of facet syndrome

Facet joint syndrome in any location of the spine often can be treated with conservative methods. Anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, periods of rest, exercise and alternating hot and cold compresses are some of the more effective treatments for this condition. Patients who have found little to no relief after several weeks or months of following these and other doctor-recommended treatments may be asked to consider surgery.

If this is your situation, but you have concerns about undergoing a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure, reach out to USA Spine Care to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery. Since 2005, our board-certified surgeons+ have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain with muscle-sparing techniques and an outpatient procedure.

Contact us today to learn more and to get your no-cost MRI or CT scan* review to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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