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Posterior Facet Syndrome


Posterior Facet Syndrome

Posterior facet syndrome (facet disease) is a degenerative spine arthritis that can lead to the presence of chronic neck or back pain. This condition is typically associated with the regular aging process and is frequently experienced later in life after years of wear and tear have damaged the joints of the vertebral column. Initial treatment for posterior facet syndrome is attempted with a variety of non-invasive procedures designed to maintain flexibility of the facet joints and to manage joint inflammation. In some cases, spine surgery is recommended to alleviate debilitating arthritic pain.

Facet joint deterioration

The facet joints are integral structures in the spinal column that are responsible for stabilizing the neck and back while allowing for flexion, extension and the ability to pivot and rotate. These sliding joints have articular surfaces that are covered with cartilage and surrounded by a thick capsule that supplies lubricating fluid to ensure smooth, comfortable motion. Posterior facet syndrome develops when this cartilage gradually wears away and leads to bone-on-bone contact, causing inflammation and the formation of bone spurs around the joint.

Treating osteoarthritis

Facet disease is a type of osteoarthritis. All osteoarthritis is marked by the deterioration of cartilage in joints, but cartilage loss cannot currently be cured or reversed. As such, treatment of posterior facet syndrome is concerned with mitigating the symptoms of the arthritic joint. In most cases, initial treatment utilizes a number of conservative, non-invasive methods that focus on keeping the spine mobile and addressing any pain the patient may be experiencing. Common treatments include:

  • The application of heat or ice
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Pain medication or corticosteroid injections
  • Physical therapy and low-impact exercise
  • Healthy diet and posture improvement

In many cases, these treatments prove effective and provide the patient with sufficient relief; however, surgery is occasionally required when the patient continues to experience debilitating symptoms after several months of treatment. If you are considering spine surgery to treat your posterior facet syndrome, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures may be able to help you.

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