Facet disease causes

By Michael Perry, M.D.

Facet disease causes are numerous and wide ranging. Making this condition one of the more common sources of neck or back issues. Facet disease originates in the spinal joints — called facet joints — which link the bones in the spine together, letting the spine bend and twist. To allow for smooth motion, the joints have a protective lining made out of cartilage and a lubricating fluid. However, years of everyday movement eventually wear away this protective lining, causing the exposed bones to rub against each other. The painful inflammation that occurs is called spinal osteoarthritis or facet disease. If you think you might be dealing with this condition, learning about the specific causes can be helpful in getting meaningful relief as you work with your primary care physician to develop a treatment plan.

Factors that affect facet disease

Facet disease causes can range from family history to illness, and include:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • General wear and tear
  • Weakened immune system
  • Traumatic bone fractures
  • Obesity
  • Improper lifting
  • Poor posture, while standing, sitting or lying down
  • Spondylolisthesis

You can learn more about the reasons facet joints are prone to breakdown and injury by reviewing our degenerative facet joints page.

Symptoms and treatment

Facet disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of so many neck or back conditions — like herniated discs, stress fractures or torn muscles — are so similar. Facet disease symptoms include:

  • Tenderness near inflamed joints
  • Lower back pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Decreased mobility and flexibility
  • Muscle weakness

If you have been dealing with similar symptoms, see your primary care physician for a clear diagnosis. Through a physical exam, X-rays or an MRI, he or she can determine whether your pain is related to facet disease and prescribe a treatment plan. To learn more about treatment options, visit our facet disease treatments page.

Beyond standard treatment, there is another option available for pain relief — the minimally invasive outpatient surgery at Laser Spine Institute. With a shorter recovery time§ and less risk of complication than traditional open back surgery, Laser Spine Institute’s treatments can help you find relief from your chronic neck or back pain. Our surgeons are able to treat the symptoms of facet disease with procedures that use smaller, muscle-sparing incisions. Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for these minimally invasive procedures.