What to expect from receiving a facet disease diagnosis

When you visit your doctor to receive a possible facet disease diagnosis, you can expect to be asked a number of questions about your symptoms, your medical history and your lifestyle. The purpose of this is to identify the underlying cause of your neck or back pain, to better understand your symptoms and to begin to develop a personalized treatment plan for a return to normal, healthy activity.

How doctors diagnose facet disease

The first step in reaching a facet disease diagnosis is for your doctor to review your symptoms, your medical history and your family’s medical history. Typical questions you can expect to hear include:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Are they better/worse at any time of day?
  • What specific symptoms are you experiencing and where are you experiencing them?
  • Have you tried any treatments, like medication or hot and cold compresses?
  • Do you have a family history of osteoarthritis?
  • Are you currently taking any medication for other conditions?
  • What sports or activities do you regularly participate in?

The goal of all these questions is for your physician to fully understand what you’re going through. One idea to make this go more smoothly is to maintain a diary to keep track of your symptoms in a detailed, day-by-day manner. While this may seem like a high degree of detail and effort, your doctor will appreciate this information.

The next step will usually be for your doctor to physically examine the affected area of your neck or back and test your range of motion. While this often causes temporary discomfort, it is an essential part of the facet disease diagnosis process.

Confirming the diagnosis

After the examination is completed, your physician may recommend that you receive an MRI, CT scan or X-ray to confirm the initial facet disease diagnosis. An X-ray can show loss of disc height, while an MRI or CT scan can show deterioration of the facet joint or another part of the spinal anatomy in greater detail.

Upon diagnosis you and your doctor can then work together to develop a treatment plan to manage pain, improve mobility and take pressure off the spine.

Treatment for facet disease

Conservative treatment like exercise, medication and physical therapy work for a large number of patients but it doesn’t work for everyone. In the event that you have received a facet disease diagnosis and are considering surgery after exhausting other options, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures are often the clinically appropriate first choice compared to traditional open neck or back surgery, helping patients reduce their risk of complication and shortening their recovery period.^

Our caring and dedicated team can help you receive a review of your recent MRI or CT scan* at no cost to help determine if you are a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.