A complete guide to facet joint arthropathy

Facet joint arthropathy refers to a degenerative disease that affects the joints of the spine and the breakdown of cartilage on those joints. Facet joint arthropathy can go by other names, such as facet joint arthrosis or, most commonly, facet joint osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of many types of arthritis. There are actually more than 100 different types of arthritis in existence but osteoarthritis is the most widespread. Generally speaking, osteoarthritis is the result of normal age-related degeneration. Learning about the general anatomy of the spine through the following article is an important first step in pursuing a correct diagnosis and treatment for this condition.

Facet joint arthropathy spinal anatomy

The strongest structures of the spine are the vertebrae, which are bones stacked into a column. This column of bones is able to move because joint surfaces, called facet joints, are located on the top and bottom of the vertebrae. The facet joints are coated with cartilage and a synovial membrane that secretes lubricating fluid, which keeps neck and back motion smooth and supple. When facet joint arthropathy occurs, cartilage begins to wear away from the facet joints. This forces the vertebrae to make direct contact with one another, making any movement of the joint stiff and painful.

One way that our body copes with a facet joint degeneration like facet joint arthropathy is by overcompensating for the lost cartilage. For instance, the body might manufacture extra growths of smooth bone along the facet joints of the vertebrae in an attempt to strengthen the damaged joint. These growths are called osteophytes, but they are more commonly known as bone spurs. Bone spurs can compress the spaces through which spinal nerve roots pass, which results in pinched nerves and causes symptoms such as numbness, tingling or radiating pain in the extremities.

Treatments for facet joint arthropathy

If you have spoken with your physician and he or she has diagnosed you with facet joint arthropathy, you may want to see if you are a candidate for the facet joint surgery offered at Laser Spine Institute. Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive procedures as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery.^

Since 2005, we have helped more than 75,000 patients to date find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Our procedures use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques to release the nerves from bone spur compression. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for your no-cost MRI or CT scan review* and to learn how we can help you find relief from neck and back pain.