What causes lumbar facet disease?

In most cases, facet disease develops in the lower back as a consequence of the natural aging process. This condition, which is also known as spinal osteoarthritis, affects the spinal facet joints. These small joints work in pairs to connect the vertebrae and provide essential support, stability and mobility to the spine.

Over time, facet disease causes the protective cartilage that lines the facet joints to slowly break down and wear away, resulting in painful friction as bone-on-bone contact occurs. Years of wear and tear can compound these effects. In particular, the facet joints in the lower back (lumbar spine) bear the brunt of this stress. This is mainly because the lumbar spine is responsible for supporting the majority of the body’s weight through a wide range of motion, including bending and twisting.

Factors that can contribute to the development of facet disease

In addition to age-related spinal degeneration, facet disease in the lower back can be caused or worsened by:

  • Repetitive motion
  • Improper lifting
  • Poor posture
  • Spinal trauma
  • Vertebral bone fractures
  • Obesity or excess body weight
  • A weakened immune system
  • Spondylolisthesis

If you think you might be at risk for developing facet disease or are experiencing symptoms in your lower back, you are encouraged to see a physician who can provide a proper diagnosis. Once you and your physician know the source of your pain, you will be better positioned to find appropriate treatment to help you feel better.

Does facet disease require surgical treatment?

You might find meaningful relief from your facet disease symptoms with nonsurgical treatment, or you may ultimately elect to have surgery. Before consenting to a traditional open spine procedure, you are encouraged to learn about the minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute, which is a safer and effective alternative.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute to request a no-cost MRI review.* Our team can explain your options in detail and help you determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive surgery to address facet disease in your lower back.