Facet disease risk factors

Facet disease is usually caused by the natural aging process, which is something no one can avoid. Facet joints connect the vertebrae in the spine, allowing for movement and stability. Facet disease occurs when there is degeneration of the cartilage in these joints. Much like in any other joint in your body, when the cartilage in a facet joint degenerates it causes inflammation of the joints, which can result in pain, stiffness and other debilitating symptoms.

Although it is largely unavoidable, there are many facet disease risk factors that can accelerate the natural aging process. Knowing more about these causes can be helpful in slowing down joint degeneration, whether you have been diagnosed with facet disease or are at risk for developing this condition.

Primary facet disease risk factors

Besides everyday wear and tear and age-related deterioration, here are some of the specific risk factors that can contribute to the onset of facet disease:

  • Obesity
  • Improper lifting
  • Awkward rest or sleeping positions
  • Genetics
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • A weakened immune system
  • Traumatic bone fractures caused by an automobile or workplace accident
  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive motion injuries, from standing and lifting or bending and twisting

While taking steps to avoid these behaviors or making lifestyle adjustments to reverse them can slow the development of facet disease, it is important to seek the partnership of your primary care doctor for diagnosis and treatment if symptoms become persistent.


Treatment options

Upon diagnosis, doctors will generally recommend starting treatment with a course of conservative treatment options. While there is no way to cure facet disease, many patients do have great success managing symptoms with some of the following methods:

  • Braces and supportive pillows
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Hot and cold compression therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Periods of rest
  • Exercise
  • Pain medication

Surgery to treat facet disease is usually considered when conservative options have been exhausted. This is because traditional open back surgery involves large incisions, overnight hospitalization and a long, often painful, rehabilitation period.

If you are considering traditional open back surgery to treat chronic symptoms related to facet disease, there is an alternative. Laser Spine Institute’s skilled surgeons have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain with minimally invasive spine surgery. We perform outpatient procedures that use smaller muscle-sparing incisions that shorten the recovery time^ compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today if you’d like more information on facet disease, its risk factors, prevention techniques and treatment options. We’ll be happy to provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to see if you are a potential candidate for a minimally invasive procedure.