Facet syndrome is the condition in which spinal facet joint’s articular surfaces gradually lose their protective cartilage covering. This deterioration results from years of bending, twisting, and flexing. This degeneration occurs as part of the natural aging process and is largely unavoidable. Degeneration of articular cartilage eventually allows denuded joint surfaces to contact resulting in inflammation.
The bone-on-bone contact that may result from facet syndrome causes inflammation at the site of the affected joint. All inflammation is characterized by redness, pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function. In this case, inflammation also stimulates formation of bone spurs, or osteophytes. These smooth, excess bony growths form on the edges of the joint space. By itself, a bone spur is asymptomatic, but if it compresses a nearby spinal nerve or the spinal cord itself, it may cause:
- Localized pain at the site of compression
- Pain that travels the entire length of the pinched nerve
While the aging process, the primary risk factor for facet syndrome, cannot be reversed, its affects can be effectively managed through conservative, nonsurgical methods. Initially physicians prescribe a variety of conservative treatments including physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, pain medication, massage, chiropractic treatment, and gentle stretching, among others. These treatments are usually very effective. In some cases however, patients do not respond to conservative treatment and surgery is prescribed. It is reasonable to determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible. Please investigate the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute, offering efficacious procedures with shorter convalescent period and lower risk when compared with traditional open spine surgery of all types. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to receive more information.