Facet disease FAQ — frequently asked questions answered by Laser Spine Institute

At Laser Spine Institute, we’ve identified several frequently asked questions that are important to patients with facet disease. If you think you may have facet disease, or have already been diagnosed with the condition, the following FAQ can give you information about facet joint osteoarthritis.

Q. What is facet disease?

A. Facet disease, otherwise known as spinal osteoarthritis, is a condition that occurs when facet joints between the vertebrae start to degenerate, which can eventually lead to inflammation. This very often happens in the lower (lumbar) section of the spine, although it can also develop in the central (thoracic) or upper (cervical) section as well.

Q. What causes facet disease?

A. Facet disease often develops as the result of ordinary wear and tear that occurs over time, coupled with tissue breakdown that happens naturally with age. However, sudden trauma, being overweight or engaging in repetitive motions can also place additional stress on the facet joints.

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. Facet disease can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Stiffness or soreness
  • Muscle spams
  • Pain at the site of the joint degeneration
  • The development of bone spurs, which can compress the spinal cord and nerve roots in the spine
  • Pain that radiates along a nerve root path

Q. What are some treatment options?

A. Treatments for facet disease are typically conservative in nature. The most common include anti-inflammatory and pain medications, facet joint injections, physical therapy and exercise, chiropractic treatment and rest. These treatments can often relieve patients’ discomfort enough that they are able to return to their daily routines.

Q. Will I need surgery?

A. Many patients are able to treat their facet disease with conservative options, but some patients do eventually opt for surgery. Typically, patients are instructed to try several weeks of conservative treatment before considering an operation. However, if nonsurgical treatments don’t provide enough relief during this time, a surgical procedure, including decompression surgery and/or facet thermal ablation, may be suggested.

For more information about facet disease treatment, or to discuss any questions that weren’t answered in this FAQ, contact Laser Spine Institute today. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, we’re proud to have helped thousands of patients find relief at our state-of-the-art facilities across the United States.

You can ask a member of our caring team for your free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.