Facetogenic pain is defined as discomfort that originates in one of the facet joints of the spine. There are two facet joints for each vertebra, one on either side, which allow each level of the spinal column to bend and rotate. Facet joints are surrounded by cartilage, soft connective tissue and a sac of synovial fluid that keeps the joint lubricated. As we age, however, this joint cartilage begins to degenerate, and the joints are no longer able to hinge without friction. This condition is referred to as facet disease or spinal osteoarthritis.
Facetogenic pain and spinal osteoarthritis
Spinal osteoarthritis causes the protective joint padding to deteriorate, which forces bone to rub against bone. This friction can cause joint stiffness, spontaneous joint lockage and facetogenic pain. In addition, osteophytes, or bone spurs, often develop in the joint space. Bones spurs can press on nearby spinal nerves and cause radicular pain that begins in the joint and spreads throughout the extremities.
In the case of facetogenic pain, it is important to differentiate between spinal osteoarthritis and spinal rheumatoid arthritis. While one is a degenerative condition, the other is actually an incurable autoimmune disease that produces severe inflammation of the synovial sac. Symptoms include warm pain, throbbing, headaches, fatigue, reduced range of motion and prolonged joint stiffness.
Treatments for facetogenic pain
If your physician has diagnosed you with facetogenic back pain stemming from a degenerative spine condition like spinal arthritis, he or she will likely suggest a course of conservative, non-operative treatment. This could include analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, selective nerve block injections, hot-cold therapy or gentle stretching. While many patients will be able to manage their symptoms with these methods, other patients will seek more targeted pain relief options. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive procedures that utilize state-of-the-art technology. We may be able to help relieve your facetogenic pain without the risks, hospitalization and lengthy recovery period^ that traditional open spine operations, like a facetectomy, require. Contact us today for a review of your MRI or CT scan.