Facet Syndrome Facts & Information
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, our pain management specialists can help relieve your pain without surgery, enabling you to return to a healthy, active lifestyle.
How & Why 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.
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
- 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
Proper diagnosis starts with an experienced pain management doctor. The type of pain that you may have with facet syndrome can be similar to the symptoms of several types of disorders. Accurately determining the correct source of your pain is critical to successful treatment.
- Begins with a thorough clinical evaluation
- Including a complete medical history, analysis of your symptoms, and physical examination
- Testing may include x-rays, MRI and/or CT scans, and electro-diagnosis (EMG)
- These advanced diagnostic techniques definitively pinpoint the source of pain