FACET JOINT DISEASE

DEGENERATIVE BACK PAIN

WHAT IS FACET JOINT DISEASE (SYNDROME) AND WHAT CAUSES IT?

Facet joints connect vertebrae above and below as shown in the diagram. Facet joint disease is a degenerative condition that is caused by wear and tear from repetitive stress over time. The pain is caused by a breakdown or thinning of the cartilage in the facet joint over time. This breakdown is contributed to by normal aging, repetitive trauma, accidents, injuries, poor posture, or work-related activities.

WHAT THINGS CAN I DO TO PREVENT FACET JOINT DISEASE?

The risk of acquiring facet joint disease may be minimized by a combination of good posture, regular exercise, a healthy body weight, and good nutrition.

IF I HAVE FACET JOINT DISEASES WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?

Facet joint disease symptoms typically occur irregularly, with occurrences of up to a few times per month. In the neck, a patient may experience tenderness and inflammation, decreased flexibility, pain in the neck that radiates though the neck down the arm to the hands and fingers.

If facet joint disease occurs in the lower back, a patient may experience tenderness and inflammation, decreased flexibility, pain at the effected joint that radiates through the buttocks and down the back of leg to the knee.

WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?

A doctor should be consulted when the frequency of occurrence and level of pain is affecting your quality of life.

HOW IS A FACET JOINT DISEASE TREATED?

Facet joint disease is usually treated by a combination of over the counter pain medications such as Advil, Aleve, or ibuprofen, in addition to rest, ice and heat, physical therapy, and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation. When these initial treatments are unsuccessful a back brace may be added to the treatment regimen. It is only after these treatment options have been unsuccessful that a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be recommended.

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