Facet syndrome is a term for osteoarthritis that develops in the facet joints of the spine. In most cases, it is caused by ordinary age-related degeneration.
The facet joints make it possible for the spine to bend and twist. However, the cartilage that protects these joints can wear down with time and the bones can eventually rub directly against each other. This can lead to inflammation, a painful grinding sensation and the formation of bone spurs, which can cause additional symptoms if they compress a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord.
Three facet syndrome contributors besides age
Although the condition is primarily caused by aging coupled with basic wear and tear, there are other factors that can lead to the development of facet syndrome. Three potential contributors include:
- Trauma from sports accidents, slip-and-fall accidents and automobile crashes. While trauma is not a direct underlying cause of facet syndrome, the stress it causes to the facet joints can speed up the natural degenerative process.
- Being overweight or obese. Extra body weight adds to the stress the joints withstand every day, which can also accelerate cartilage degeneration.
- A sedentary lifestyle that leads to muscle weakness and overall poor physical fitness. Regular exercise has a number of benefits for joint health, including improved blood flow that delivers important nutrients to the joints.
Doctors may consider the underlying cause of a patient’s facet syndrome when creating a treatment plan and make adjustments as needed.
Surgical and nonsurgical treatments
In most cases, patients are advised to address their symptoms with a combination of conservative methods, especially at the beginning of treatment. Options such as pain medication, physical therapy, stretching exercises, corticosteroid injections and lifestyle changes can be highly effective at relieving facet syndrome symptoms. Some patients, however, do not obtain the desired results from conservative treatments. For these people, surgery may be recommended.
At USA Spine Care, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery to treat facet syndrome and other common spine conditions. Since 2005, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. By using muscle-sparing techniques, our surgeons can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision that allows for a streamlined outpatient experience with less risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back surgery. Contact us today to learn more.
If you’re wondering whether you’re a potential candidate for minimally invasive outpatient surgery for facet syndrome, we can help you receive a no-cost MRI review to find out.*
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