Facet disease, also called facet arthritis or facet joint syndrome, is degenerative arthritis affecting the facet joints. Facet joints are the posterior connections between the spine’s vertebrae. These connections allow the spine to enjoy a smooth range of motion. Facet joints also prevent certain motions that would injure the important nerve tissue housed inside the spine. Any degenerative changes in the facet joints may be colloquially termed facet disease.
In a healthy facet joint, articular cartilage is soft, smooth and slippery. Facet joints are surrounded by a joint capsule lined with synovium, which supplies a lubricating fluid to the joint so that they can slide easily and painlessly. With age, however, the articular cartilage wears and roughens. The synovial lining may become inflamed and make less lubricating fluid. These changes make neck and back movements very painful.
Facet Disease Locations & Symptoms
Facet disease can occur in the cervical (upper) region of the spine, the thoracic (middle) region, or the lumbar (lower) region. A variety of factors contribute to this condition, including age, gender, obesity, genetic predisposition, and lifestyle. Aging appears to be the dominant factor in the progression of facet joint degenerative disease. Symptoms can include the following:
- Locking of the joints
- Curvature of the spine
- Crepitus, a crunching sensation of bone rubbing against bone
As with any degenerative spine disease, a personalized schedule of non-invasive physiotherapy may be all that is needed to suppress symptoms. Gentle exercise may help maintain mobility. With a doctor’s permission, try activities like swimming, walking, or mild yoga. Anti-inflammatory steroid injections can also help ease the pain of degenerative arthritis of the spine.
If you have tried conservative management of symptoms but feel that facet disease continues to impede your life, the experts at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) may be able to help. We utilize a variety of innovative , minimally invasive surgical therapies, such as facet joint ablation or facet joint denervation. Our procedures offer a welcome alternative to the risks of traditional, open back surgeries. Contact us today for a complimentary review or your MRI or CT scan. Let us help you regain spinal health. .