Facet disease — symptoms and treatments

Facet disease symptoms can range in severity from mild discomfort to constant, nagging pain. This condition is another term for spinal osteoarthritis and involves the gradual deterioration of the cartilaginous lining of the facet joints in the spine. This loss of cartilage can lead to bone-on-bone contact and joint inflammation, which causes aches, stiffness and a grinding or popping sensations, especially first thing in the morning.

More severe facet disease symptoms can also be caused by the development of bone spurs, which can cause narrowing in the spinal column and interfere with the functioning of nerves. By learning more about the symptoms and treatment options for facet disease and bone spurs, you can give yourself a better chance of finding lasting relief if this condition is affecting your life.

Bone spurs and facet disease

Also called osteophytes, bone spurs are smooth extensions of the body’s natural bone structure. The body creates bone spurs in an effort to stabilize the joints as a result of the increased joint friction. While bone spurs may provide the spine with added stability, they can also constrict the nerve pathways in the spine and cause compression of the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root. Patients with bone spurs may experience the following symptoms:

  • Localized pain
  • Pain that travels along a nerve into the upper or lower body
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness

Facet disease treatments

Facet disease symptoms, and those caused by bone spurs, can often be relieved through conservative methods. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the use of heating pads and cold compresses, epidural steroid injections and physical therapy can often provide the relief necessary to resume normal, comfortable activity.

In some cases, patients may find little to no relief from conservative treatments and may be recommended for surgery. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^ Since 2005 we have helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain with a streamlined, outpatient experience.

Contact us for a no-cost MRI or CT-scan review* that can help you find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.