How to treat facet disease

Facet disease is a general term describing the age-related breakdown of the facet joints. Facet joints are sliding joints found in the posterior (rear) portion of each vertebra. These joints link the vertebrae together and allow for flexing and twisting in the spinal column. With aging, the cartilage of the facet joints degrades and becomes brittle, which can lead to inflammation in the facet joints known as spinal osteoarthritis.

Patients report symptoms of throbbing and tenderness, abnormal joint stiffness, limited range of motion and diminished flexibility. While facet disease is a progressive, degenerative condition that worsens with age, the speed of deterioration and its associated symptoms may be slowed through treatment by nonsurgical, conservative methods.

Conservative treatments

If you have been diagnosed with facet disease, the standard course of action usually begins with a conservative treatment schedule. Before you start any treatment, it’s important you consult with your doctor. Generally, however, your doctor will recommend any of the following:

  • Rest
  • Hot and cold packs
  • Mild exercise, combined with stretching and periods of rest
  • Chiropractic work
  • A physical therapy plan
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Epidural steroid injections

Advanced treatments

If conservative treatments have proven ineffective after weeks or months of treating your pain, surgery may be recommended. However, a highly invasive traditional open spine surgery is no longer your only surgical option to treat facet disease. At Laser Spine Institute, we specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and more effective^ alternative to traditional procedures. We provide minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures to treat a wide range of spinal conditions on an outpatient basis. One of our procedures for the treatment of facet disease is a facet thermal ablation, which involves the desensitization of painful nerve endings in the facet joint to relieve painful sensations.

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 75,000 people find relief from the symptoms of their neck and back conditions. Contact us today to receive a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.