How injury to the neck and back can cause facet disease

Trauma and injury to the neck and back are common facet disease causes. However, facet disease is primarily an age-related condition caused by natural deterioration, sometimes making it difficult to pinpoint a specific injury as the source. Furthermore, disorders of the spine have other risk factors that can lead to their development — not just a single event like a traumatic injury. With that said, certain injuries to the vertebral joints in particular can lead to facet disease when the cartilage is damaged. A physician can determine your prognosis following a traumatic neck or back injury.

Facet disease and injury explained

Facet disease is a common form of osteoarthritis that develops in the neck and back. Specifically, this condition refers to arthritic degeneration in the vertebral facet joints that normally give the spine much of its strength and flexibility. In a healthy spine, the facet joints are lined with cartilage, which allows the vertebral bodies to glide against one another comfortably. Facet disease begins to develop when this cartilage wears away, leading to bone-on-bone contact. Typically, cartilage wears away with regular use as a result of wear and tear over the years, but in some cases an injury may prematurely damage the cartilage.

Additionally, when the anatomy of the spine experiences trauma in a car accident or sports-related injury, for example, it can take a toll on the facet joints and eventually increase the chance for facet disease to develop later in life. This is one reason that athletes are often more prone to joint problems in their necks and backs as they grow older.

Specifically, facet disease can cause many different symptoms, including:

  • Localized, chronic pain
  • Acute pain that comes and goes
  • Inflammation around an affected joint
  • Nerve compression and subsequent neuropathic pain
  • Fatigue
  • Diminished mobility

Treatment options for facet disease

If you develop facet disease — as the result of an injury or causes — and conservative, nonsurgical treatment does not deliver the results you expect, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about your treatment options. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery period.^

To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures, ask a member of our dedicated team for your no-cost MRI review today.*