Facet Disease | Acupuncture
Facet disease is a degenerative condition that affects the facet joints of the spine. Also known as spinal arthritis, facet disease typically occurs as a result of the aging process. As we age, the cartilage that lines and protects each spinal joint begins to wear away, which can lead to exposed bone rubbing on bone. Once this friction occurs, symptoms of pain, inflammation, stiffness and tenderness can develop in the spine and may progressively worsen over time. Bone spurs also may form. Conservative, non-invasive treatments such as pain medication, physical therapy, hot/cold therapy and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are usually the first methods recommended to relieve pain. However, some patients dealing with facet disease symptoms seek holistic, alternative treatments such as acupuncture.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing method, based on the theory of qi (“chee”). The Chinese believe that qi is the life energy that courses throughout the body in specific channels, or meridians. When these meridians are “blocked,” it is thought that qi becomes imbalanced and health problems can arise.
Before treating a patient with facet disease, an acupuncturist may first thoroughly examine the patient’s medical history and take pulse readings. If the patient is eligible for treatment, she or he will be asked to lie face down on a massage table. Next, the acupuncturist will insert hair-thin, sterilized stainless steel needles into specific points along the neck or back, depending on where the pain is most intense. The patient will be required to lie still for a period of time before the needles are removed. The acupuncturist may have the patient return for several more treatments in an effort to alleviate as much pain as possible.
It is still unclear exactly how acupuncture can provide facet disease pain relief. Practitioners of Western medicine believe that the needles are inserted near nerve roots, which may increase blood flow and stimulate the body to release its natural painkiller, endorphins.
If acupuncture is ineffective
Using acupuncture to treat facet disease may alleviate pain for some patients, but not for others. If you have exhausted conservative and alternative treatments with no tangible symptomatic relief, you may want to consider the minimally invasive procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute. With the use of state-of-the-art techniques, our orthopedic surgeons have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from neck and back pain caused by a variety of spinal conditions. If you’d like to learn more about our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute and receive a review of your MRI or CT scan.