Facet syndrome in the neck occurs when the cartilage that surrounds the facet joints — the hinge-like structures of the spine that allow adjacent vertebrae to articulate — deteriorates. While this deterioration can be a result of genetics, illness or injury, the most common cause is simply the aging process. As the joint cartilage wears away, you may experience reduced mobility or instability in the facet joints, in addition to neural compression caused by bone spurs.
Symptoms of cervical facet syndrome
The symptoms of cervical facet syndrome are not just confined to the neck. Discomfort can stay localized in the cervical region of the spine, but neural compression can cause symptoms to radiate throughout the shoulders, arms, hands and/or fingers. Common symptoms include:
If neural compression goes untreated for an extended period of time, the patient also runs the risk of developing paralysis, or permanent loss of muscle function.
Treatments for cervical facet syndrome
Treatment for cervical facet syndrome is available in a variety of forms, and, although the condition can be very painful, the majority of patients will not need surgery to achieve pain relief. Ask your physician about a conservative, non-operative treatment plan, which may include pain medication, physical therapy, hot/cold compresses, behavior modification and intermittent rest. A spine specialist may also recommend epidural steroid injections, ultrasound therapy or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for facet syndrome in the neck.
In the event that weeks or months of these treatments prove ineffective and your symptoms are diminishing your quality of life, you may begin to wonder if surgery is an option for you. While open neck or back surgeries can involve hospitalization, muscle trauma and a lengthy recuperation, there are minimally invasive alternatives available to you. The orthopedic surgeons at USA Spine Care may be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain with a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that directly targets the source of your spine pain without the need for a large incision or connective tissue disruption. For more information, or for your MRI or CT scan review, contact USA Spine Care.
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