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Three tests that are used to diagnose facet syndrome

Facet syndrome is a common degenerative spinal condition characterized by the deterioration of the facet joints in the spine. Also referred to as spinal osteoarthritis, facet syndrome can develop when the cartilage in a facet joint deteriorates due to many years of wear and tear. When this happens, the bones in the joint can grind against one another, resulting in pain, stiffness and inflammation. This can also cause the formation of a bone spur in the joint, which could come in contact with a spinal nerve root or the spinal cord and result in symptoms such as pain, numbness and tingling that can radiate along a nerve pathway to other parts of the body.

Diagnosing facet syndrome

The facet syndrome diagnosis process starts with a visit to your physician. The first step will most likely be a thorough review of your medical history — including your family history — to see if there are any factors that could make you more predisposed to facet syndrome. Once this is completed, your physician will likely perform a physical examination to test your range of motion and identify the area of your spine that is being affected. Then, to confirm that facet syndrome is the source of your discomfort, you will likely be asked to undergo one of the following tests:

  • X-ray. An X-ray is an excellent way to identify changes in the bone structure of your spine or the formation of a bone spur.
  • MRI. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can create highly detailed pictures of the soft tissues, bone and other structures of the body.
  • CT scan. CT scans are similar to X-rays and can show the bones of the spine in greater detail than an MRI, making them useful in the facet syndrome diagnosis.

Facet syndrome treatment options

If you’ve received a facet syndrome diagnosis and you are experiencing symptoms that are interfering with your day-to-day life, your physician will likely recommend a combination of conservative treatments. Some possibilities include taking medications, using hot/cold compresses and participating in physical therapy. If your symptoms don’t improve after several weeks or months, surgery may be necessary to address the source of your pain.

USA Spine Care performs minimally invasive surgery to treat facet syndrome and other degenerative spine conditions. Our procedures are often clinically appropriate and provide many advantages versus open neck or back surgery.^

Contact us today if you would like to learn more about the outpatient procedures we offer. If you’d like to find out if you are a candidate for surgery at USA Spine Care, ask us how to receive a free MRI review.*

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