Facet disease causes — the natural aging process

One of the leading facet disease causes is the natural aging process. As we age, the spinal anatomy naturally begins to deteriorate due to losing water content and years of pressure from weight and movement. While this spinal degeneration can occur at any level of the spine, it is most commonly seen in the neck and lower back. That’s because these spinal segments are both highly flexible and also must support the weight of the upper body and head.

Over time, this wide range of motion and consistent weight burden takes a toll, causing spinal anatomy to gradually deteriorate. Facet disease is an example of a condition that develops as this deterioration occurs.

What is facet disease?

Facet disease is another name for osteoarthritis of the spine. In the spinal column, adjacent vertebral bodies are connected by the facet joints. These joints are coated in a thin layer of cartilage that allows them to glide against one another comfortably. When a patient has facet disease, this cartilage has worn away, causing bone-on-bone contact. It is this friction that causes inflammation, pain, stiffness and the cracks and pops associated with this condition. Facet disease can also cause nerve compression, resulting in shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the extremities.

Treatment options

Facet disease, like all types of osteoarthritis, is not a curable or reversible condition. Once cartilage is lost, it cannot be replaced or regrown. However, patients who have facet disease may find the symptom relief they require from a variety of different treatment plans. Here are some of effective types of approaches:

  • Nonsurgical. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, low-impact exercise and hot/cold compresses are quite common.
  • Alternative treatment. Many patients turn to alternative treatments like deep tissue massage or acupuncture to complement their traditional treatments.
  • Surgery. Surgical intervention is recommended when conservative approaches have been exhausted without providing the necessary relief for comfortable, everyday activity.

Before consenting to undergo a traditional open neck or back surgery to treat age-related facet disease, learn more about Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive spine surgery as a safer and effective alternative.^ Our highly-skilled surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques to access the spine, leading to an outpatient procedure that offers less risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.

Learn more by contacting our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today and asking for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.