The facet disease diagnosis process

If you believe symptoms of stiffness, pain and limited mobility may be related to facet disease, you should see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan. He or she can give you a physical exam to measure your symptoms, identify the cause of your condition and recommend a treatment plan to help you find relief.

Diagnosing facet disease

The reason that a medical professional must make a facet disease diagnosis is because many of the symptoms associated with facet disease can also be caused by other spine conditions. Back pain, for example, could be caused by something as simple as a sprain or strain, or the presence of a herniated disc or vertebral slippage. Since different conditions can have different treatment needs, effective treatment is highly dependent on receiving the correct diagnosis.

Generally speaking, here is what you can expect from the facet disease diagnosis process:

  • Review of you and your family’s medical history. Osteoarthritis is a common cause of facet disease and is believed to have a genetic component, so a physician will also review your family’s medical history to determine whether you may be predisposed.
  • Discussion about the symptoms. A doctor will ask about your symptoms, when the condition started, whether any treatments have been effective and other similar questions to gain a better understanding.
  • Physical examination. A physician will examine the area around the neck or back and test range of motion.
  • Diagnostic testing and imagery. An X-ray, MRI or CT scan may be recommended to confirm the presence of osteoarthritis and ensure that another underlying issue isn’t to blame for your symptoms.

Treatment for facet disease

If a facet disease diagnosis is reached, the next step in the process is to discuss treatment options. Doctors will typically begin with a course of conservative treatments designed to ease pain and return patients to a comfortable level of activity. These treatments, such as physical therapy, stretching and lifestyle changes, help relieve pressure on a pinched nerve near the facet joints that is causing your pain.

However, if these treatments do not provide lasting pain relief over several months, surgery can become a serious option. If you are in this situation, you should research the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures involve muscle-sparing techniques that allow for an outpatient procedure with less risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.^

For patients with facet disease, we offer a minimally invasive facet thermal ablation procedure. This procedure is generally performed with one of our decompression procedures, and involves the use of a laser to deaden sensory nerves around your facet joints, thereby relieving symptoms. To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

To see if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive procedures, you can ask for a free MRI review.*