What exercises should you avoid if you have facet disease?
Facet disease is a form of osteoarthritis that can potentially make movement and exercise painful. That’s because this type of degeneration affects the small, stabilizing joints located between and behind adjacent vertebrae in the spine. During movement, the bones in the facet joints slide against each other, and their sliding surfaces are normally coated by moist cartilage that reduces friction. As the facet joints undergo degenerative changes, their cartilage may become thinner or disappear entirely. Due to the resulting bone-on-bone contact, the facet joints may become inflamed and further enlarged as the body produces protective bone spurs.
While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise actually plays a key role in facet disease treatment. However, it’s important to proceed with caution because certain movements and body positions can do more harm than good. Before starting any exercise program, it’s best to consult with a physician who can recommend a safe and effective regimen for you.
Exercises that can cause or contribute to facet disease pain
Your physician will likely advise you to avoid several specific exercises during your facet disease treatment. These include:
- Running and jogging
- Sit-ups and crunches
- Leg lifts
- Toe touches
- Torso twists
- Barbell squats
To ensure that you get enough exercise while protecting your spine, your physician can help you find appropriate alternatives to these activities. For instance, walking and swimming are excellent, low-impact options that can generally be performed safely if you have spinal osteoarthritis.
What to do if exercise does not help your facet disease symptoms
Facet disease symptoms can often be managed effectively with exercise and other nonsurgical treatments. However, you might consider surgical treatment if your discomfort is severe or debilitating. The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive outpatient procedures to address spinal osteoarthritis and other degenerative spine conditions. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is often clinically appropriate and provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery.^