Facet disease surgery — a treatment of last resort

Facet disease surgery is usually only considered after conservative methods have been fully explored without bringing an acceptable quality of life. Facet disease, which is a type of arthritis, occurs when the cartilaginous lining of the joints in the spine begins to gradually wear away. When this happens, increased joint friction leads to inflammation, aches and stiffness. Since facet disease is a nonreversible age-related condition, the goal of treatment is to relieve these symptoms. Steps can also be taken to improve the long-term health of the spine.

Whether you have been recently diagnosed with facet disease or have been dealing with this condition for a longer period of time, it’s important to work closely with your doctor to make sure nonsurgical treatments have been thoroughly explored. In many cases, patients dealing with facet disease are able to find lasting relief without resorting to surgery.

What are the primary conservative treatments?

Before a physician or spine specialist recommends that a patient undergoes facet disease surgery, he or she will likely prescribe a course of conservative treatments. This should be a comprehensive program designed to improve spinal flexibility and range of motion, manage symptoms and help with any lifestyle changes needed to take pressure off the facet joints. Specific methods will often include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Following a weight management plan
  • Physical therapy
  • The use of heating pads and/or cold compresses
  • Facet joint injections
  • Therapeutic massage

Patients should expect some degree of trial and error to find the right combination of treatments for their lifestyle. In some cases alternative treatments such as acupuncture or herbal remedies may also be attempted before surgery is seriously considered.

What if surgery is recommended?

If facet disease surgery does become a serious option after fully exhausting conservative treatments, a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure doesn’t have to be your only choice. Using muscle-sparing techniques, Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain. Our minimally invasive procedures:

  • Do not require a lengthy recovery^
  • Involve a less than 1-inch incision
  • Are performed on an outpatient basis

Contact our dedicated team to learn more and for answers to any of your questions.

We can help you receive a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.