Facet disease in the back

Facet disease in the back is a common form of osteoarthritis, or arthritis of the spine, that develops with the natural wear and tear of the spine. This condition is most common in the lumbar region of the spine (the lower back), but it can occur between any vertebrae in the spinal column.

Facet disease is the swelling and inflammation of the facet joints in the spine. These joints allow the vertebrae of the spine to bend. When they swell from arthritis and other facet disease causes, movement in the vertebrae is limited and painful. In some cases, the facet joints may even swell and press against a nearby nerve, resulting in chronic pain and limited mobility.

Osteoarthritis as a cause of facet disease

Osteoarthritis, also known as arthritis of the spine, can occur in any weight-bearing joint in the body. Facet disease in the back occurs when the cartilage that coats the facet joints slowly wears away, eventually leading to bone-on-bone contact (also known as crepitus). When this condition develops, the joint becomes sore and stiff, causing a noticeable loss of mobility. Additionally, bone spurs may form naturally as the body’s response to help stabilize the spine. These bone spurs can increase painful symptoms when they come in contact with a nerve near the joint.

Additional symptoms associated with facet disease in the back include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain in the area around the deteriorated joint
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Pain and stiffness first thing in the morning (during early stages)
  • A feeling of heat

Treatment options for facet disease

For individuals diagnosed with facet disease in the back, there are a number of treatments that may be recommended depending on several factors, such as age, overall health, the cause of the facet disease and others.

In many instances, conservative treatment is first recommended to reduce pressure on the pinched nerve near the facet joint. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the application of heat or ice, low-impact exercises, stretching techniques and other similar treatments are all methods of nonsurgical therapy. Additionally, many people turn to deep tissue massage, chiropractic therapy and other alternative treatments.

In the event that the symptoms of facet disease in your back continue after months of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the advantages of undergoing one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. Our minimally invasive spine surgery offers lower risk and shorter recovery time^ than traditional open back surgery. Patients with facet disease can undergo a minimally invasive facet thermal ablation, which reduces the swelling in the joints and deadens the surrounding nerves to help relieve pain.

For more information about the advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today.