How can a facet disease specialist help?

Neck and back pain can be caused by a number of different sources, from a fairly minor muscle strain to a degenerative spine condition. Facet disease, also called facet arthritis, is a general term describing the age-related breakdown of the facet joints in the spine, which link together the spinal vertebrae. As we get older, the cartilage that protects these joints can dry up and become brittle, causing the facet joints to become stiff and inflamed. The resulting pain and stiffness can interfere with your daily activities, including work, time with loved ones, hobbies and getting a good night’s sleep.

A facet disease specialist is a physician — such as a rheumatologist, physiatrist or spine surgeon — with a focused background in treating facet disease. Speak with your primary care doctor about which specific type of specialist may be best to seek out in your situation. In the meantime, learning about the full range of treatment options available to you is an important first step in getting back to a healthy, active lifestyle.

Recommended conservative treatments

If you’ve been diagnosed with facet disease, your doctor may have first recommended an initial course of conservative treatment options, including rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heating pads and cold compresses. If your condition isn’t responsive to these more basic remedies, there are more involved treatments that can be prescribed, whether through a general practitioner or a more specialized physician. These methods can include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Massage treatment
  • Prescription pain medication

Surgery is usually seen as a treatment of last resort, especially due to the highly invasive nature of traditional open spine procedures, which involve large muscle-tearing incisions, overnight hospitalization and long recovery periods.

When to consult a facet disease specialist for surgery

You may be referred to a surgical specialist if weeks or months of conservative treatment do not bring the relief you need for normal activity. If you are considering surgery but have concerns about the risks and difficulties of traditional open neck or back procedures, Laser Spine Institute may be able to help. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures, offering our patients a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication.

To learn more, contact our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review that can determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.