What is facet disease?

Facet disease, also called spinal osteoarthritis, facet arthritis or facet joint syndrome, is degenerative arthritis that affects the facet joints. The facet joints exist in between individual vertebrae, and healthy facet joints allow the spine to move smoothly. Facet joints also inhibit certain motions that would injure the important nerve tissue housed inside the spine.

Due to our dependence on the facet joints to support almost constant movement and a steady, upright posture, these joints are prone to wear down over time. Any degenerative changes in the facet joints may be considered facet disease. Patients suffering from facet disease may experience sharp pains in the back during movement or sudden stiffness and difficulty moving the spine.

If you have experienced facet disease symptoms regularly, you should consult your doctor about determining the cause of your pain as well as finding a treatment option to relieve your symptoms and increase your mobility. To learn about the signs of facet disease as well as the options available to relieve your pain and discomfort, read the following article.

Symptoms of facet disease

Facet disease can occur in the cervical (upper) region, the thoracic (middle) region or the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. A variety of factors contribute to this condition, including age, gender, weight, genetic predisposition and lifestyle. Aging appears to be the dominant factor in the progression of facet joint degenerative disease.

As the body ages, the vertebrae compress under excess weight and repetitive motion. The compression of the vertebrae creates pressure on the facet joints, which begin to deteriorate.
Symptoms of facet disease can include the following:

  • Aching
  • Throbbing
  • Tenderness
  • Locking of the joints
  • Curvature of the spine
  • Pain with bending, lifting or twisting
  • A grinding sensation of bone rubbing against bone

These symptoms can be an indication of the severity of your condition. For example, tenderness in the joints might signify a milder version of facet disease than experiencing bone on bone grinding. You should consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis of your condition. Once you determine the cause and severity of your facet disease, you can begin to find a treatment option that best fits your needs.

Treatment options for facet disease

As with any degenerative disease in the spine, conservative therapy can be an effective treatment option for mild forms of this condition. Low-impact exercise and stretches may help maintain mobility. With a doctor’s permission, try activities like biking, swimming, walking, Pilates or yoga. Cortisone injections, anti-inflammatories and chiropractic manipulation can also help ease the pain of degenerative arthritis of the spine.

If you have tried conservative management of symptoms but feel that facet disease continues to interfere with your life, contact Laser Spine Institute. We offer minimally invasive surgery to help treat facet disease by removing arthritis from the joints to reduce pain and restore mobility. Our minimally invasive procedures, such as facet thermal ablation, performed most often in conjunction with a minimally invasive decompression surgery, are performed through a less than 1-inch incision.

Our procedures offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ For more information about our minimally invasive spine surgery and the types of treatment available to you, please reach out to our dedicated team today. Through a free MRI review,* we can determine if you are a potential candidate for our facet disease surgery. We are here to help you find the treatment option that will help you return to your active lifestyle.