What is facet disease and how is it treated?

Facet disease is a degenerative spine condition and a type of arthritis. Facet joints connect the vertebrae, allowing our spines to do the bending and twisting required for daily activities. As we age, the stress from these everyday tasks, like walking the dog and bending down to empty the dishwasher, will wear away the cartilage that cushions the joints.

This deterioration can lead to debilitating symptoms like chronic pain in the neck or back, stiffness and loss of mobility. These symptoms are usually associated with activities such as bending, twisting, lifting or even sitting for long periods of time. To learn more about what facet disease is as well as the treatments available to relieve your pain and discomfort, read the following article.

Facet disease and bone spurs

To prevent the unlined joints from rubbing together during movement, the body naturally creates bone spurs. Despite the name, bone spurs are not sharp. They are actually a smooth buildup of calcium trying to stabilize the joints from the friction occurring. While bone spurs are supposed to be a helpful response to facet disease, they can create a whole new set of symptoms requiring treatment.

These symptoms develop because bone spurs can often interfere with the nerves that run through the spine. The location of your symptoms varies depending on the part of the spine affected by the bone spur. A pinched nerve in the neck due to a bone spur will cause pain in the shoulders, arms and down to the hands. Lower body pain in the hips, buttocks and legs almost always originates in the lower spine.

Treating facet disease

In many cases, the symptoms of facet disease and bone spur growth can be alleviated through the use of conservative treatments. A treatment regimen should always be created with the help of your doctor. Some of the most commonly prescribed therapies include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Pain medications, both narcotic and non-narcotic
  • Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Weight management
  • Physical therapy

If you have been through several weeks and months of conservative facet disease treatment without experiencing the pain relief you need, surgery may then become an option. If this is the case for you, contact the spine care experts at Laser Spine Institute to learn about our outpatient facet procedures and for a free MRI review* to determine if our procedures would be effective for you.

Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery that avoids a lengthy recovery time and reduces hospital-associated costs.^ Our minimally invasive decompression surgery removes a small portion of the bone spur, while our minimally invasive stabilization procedures remove the entire damaged disc or vertebra and replace it with an artificial disc or bone graft.

Since 2005, our minimally invasive procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients recapture their quality of life from chronic neck or back pain. To learn more about what sets us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and to find out if you are a potential candidate for our facet disease surgery, reach out to our dedicated team today.