Facet Hypertrophy

Facet hypertrophy is an enlargement of one or more facet joints. These joints connect the spinal vertebrae to facilitate flexibility and motion. Hypertrophy of the facet joints is usually experienced by people over the age of 30. The reason the condition is usually found in middle-aged adults is that, over time, or due to a traumatic injury, the facet joints progressively degenerate.

The joint enlargement of facet hypertrophy is typically a result of the body’s own healing mechanisms. In an attempt to make deteriorating joints stronger, the body will encourage the accumulation of bone tissue on the joints. This reaction, however, makes the joints larger and increases pressure on the surrounding areas. In fact, facet hypertrophy can cause the joints to become enlarged to the point that they exert pressure on the spinal nerves. To educate yourself further on the issues related to the breakdown of these joints, visit our degenerative facet joints page.

Facet hypertrophy most commonly occurs in the lumbar region, where it can cause joints to protrude into the spinal canal and place pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. At this stage, patients tend to adjust their posture to avoid the pain from pressure, which may exacerbate the situation and cause problems in other areas of the spinal column. Other effects include:

  • Stiffness
  • Discomfort when leaning backward
  • Joint swelling
  • Decreased mobility
  • Hunched back

If you experience any of these symptoms, and you feel they may be attributable to facet hypertrophy, speak with your health care provider. He or she can determine the cause of your discomfort and recommend treatment options, such as non-prescription medications, exercises, posture changes and osteopathic manipulations. You can also learn other treatment options by visiting our facet disease treatments page.

There are times, however, that patients who are diagnosed with facet hypertrophy require more relief than standard treatments provide. Another option is available at Laser Spine Institute, where we offer outpatient, minimally invasive procedures that provide a quicker recuperation time than other treatments like traditional open back surgery. For your CT scan or MRI review and to receive more information about our facilities, contact us today.