Facet Syndrome

Facet Syndrome
A Common Cause of Neck and Back Pain

If you’re experiencing persistent, chronic pain in any part of your spine, from your neck to your lower back, you may be suffering from facet syndrome, one of the most common causes of back pain.

When seen in adults over age 50, facet syndrome, which is usually caused by normal wear and tear, results in arthritis; however, it can also occur at a younger age from injury or overuse.

Although millions of Americans suffer from this condition, there is an alternative to living with this pain. Through accurate diagnosis and proven treatment methods, National Spine & Pain Centers can help relieve your pain without surgery, enabling you to return to a healthy, active lifestyle.
How Does Facet Syndrome Develop?

Facet syndrome can occur anywhere in the spine. It develops in the small joints located between each vertebra called facet joints. These joints are in constant motion, providing the spine with both the stability and flexibility needed to walk, run, bend, sit, and twist. The joint surfaces are lined with cartilage allowing them to glide easily over each other. As we age, the cartilage gradually wears away, and in many cases, growths called “bone spurs” can develop. Friction between the bones leads to the tenderness, swelling, stiffness, and pain of arthritis. Though generally the result of the natural aging process, the initial cause of arthritis, or facet syndrome, may be an injury or overuse in youth.
Risk Factors for Facet Syndrome

When a joint is damaged through normal deterioration, injury, or repetitive trauma, it may become swollen, painful, and stiff. Inflammation is usually temporary, but in arthritic joints, it may cause long-lasting or permanent disability. In addition to age, other risk factors for facet syndrome include:

Excessive weight
Overuse due to sports or heavy labor
Family history of facet syndrome
Presence of disease such as gout, other types of arthritis, or infections
Damage may stem from injuries, including whiplash, sleeping with a twisted neck
Or also a sudden jerk of the neck, twisting while lifting overhead, or trauma to the spine

Consider the Symptoms of Facet Syndrome

At first, you may simply experience an aching feeling in your neck or back that fades and returns again after overuse. Eventually, as the disease progresses, the pain occurs more frequently and lasts longer. One joint may be affected initially, but with time and continued activity more joints may deteriorate as well. Generally, there is a persistent tenderness over the irritated joint, some loss of flexibility, and pain that is aggravated by stretching or turning. Other symptoms vary depending on the location of the affected joint and may include:

Pain that is often worse in the beginning and end of the day or with a change in weather
Lower back pain that radiates into the buttocks, pelvic area, or thighs
Neck pain that radiates into the shoulders, arms, or head
Headaches at the base of the skull, aching behind the eyes, and/or ringing in the ears
The sound of bone rubbing on bone when you move
Abnormal curvature in the spine
Weakness or numbness in your legs or arms
Standing has some effect on facet joint pain
Sitting or riding in the car for long periods of time can also significantly exacerbate the condition

It All Starts with an Accurate, Expert Diagnosis from a Pain Specialist

Back and neck pain are caused by several different types of disorders, many of which share similar symptoms. Accurately determining the correct source of your pain is critical to successful treatment. At National Spine & Pain Centers, diagnosis begins with a thorough clinical examination, including a complete medical history, analysis of your symptoms, and physical exam. Testing may include x-rays, CT scan, MRI, blood tests, and a specific technique called facet joint injection. Both therapeutic and diagnostic, this procedure enables physicians to precisely identify the exact origin of pain. Using x-ray guidance called fluoroscopy, the physician is able to see and accurately target the affected joints with anti-inflammatory medication. Performed under local anesthetic, facet joint injections offer the advantage of providing immediate feedback in confirming the source of your pain.

No Surgery Needed…How Our Advanced Therapies Can Resolve Your Spine Pain

Painful symptoms of arthritis in the spine can often be lessened or temporarily relieved without surgery. Here’s what you can expect if one of our pain management specialists treats the pain in your spine:

Simple measures such as oral anti-inflammatory and pain medications, heat treatments, modified activity
Also weight reduction, improving posture, physical therapy, exercise, and traction
Advanced non-surgical therapies include facet joint injections
Or radiofrequency denervation where nerve endings near facet joints are deadened using thermal energy
Many patients experience substantial pain relief with the combination of simple and advanced therapies
No general anesthesia, hospital stays, or prolonged recovery periods to worry about