Facet disease causes and risk factors

Facet disease describes the swelling and inflammation found in the facet joints in the spine — the joints that allow the vertebrae of the spine to hinge and move. This swelling can be caused by a number of factors, including arthritis of the spine and other degenerative conditions.

Facet disease causes a number of symptoms, including pain, inflammation, stiffness and the uncomfortable sensation of bones rubbing against one another. Because this condition often develops with the natural aging of the spine, many people wonder if there are any prevention methods that can be taken to reduce their risk of developing facet disease. The short answer to this question is yes, there are certain steps that individuals can take to strengthen the spine and help reduce the risk of developing facet disease and other degenerative spine conditions. However, sometimes even the best prevention methods only slow the process of developing these conditions and do not prevent them altogether.

Risk factors of facet disease

There are a number of risk factors that can cause the development of facet disease. Causes such as the natural aging process and genetics are unavoidable, but there are certain lifestyle factors that may increase your risk of developing facet disease. Such risk factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Using tobacco products
  • Abusing alcohol
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Participating in high-impact sports
  • Working in a physically demanding job that requires constant bending and/or lifting

While these lifestyle changes may not prevent you from developing a degenerative spine condition like facet disease, making these small changes could increase your spine health and help you avoid or postpone such conditions.

Treating facet disease

Despite your best efforts to prevent the condition, you may still develop facet disease. Regardless of the cause of facet disease, the treatment options are often similar. Your physician will most likely recommend that you begin a course of conservative treatment to find pain relief for your condition. Conservative treatments are nonsurgical ways of reducing pressure on the pinched nerve in your spine that is causing your pain. These methods could include physical therapy, yoga and stretching.

Many people are able to find relief through conservative treatments. However, if you have endured several months of conservative treatments and you are still suffering from facet disease pain, you should ask your physician about the minimally invasive treatment at Laser Spine Institute.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. Because of our precise and careful approach to the spine, our patients can experience a shorter recovery time^ and higher patient satisfaction rates than patients who opt for traditional open neck or back surgery. For patients suffering from facet disease, we offer a minimally invasive facet thermal ablation, which simply means that our surgeons remove the inflammation and swelling from the facet joint and then deaden the nerves surrounding the joint to help prevent future pain.

For more information about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery, or to find out if you are a candidate for our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for a review of your MRI or CT scan.