What causes facet disease?

If you have been diagnosed with facet disease, understanding what causes facet disease will help you in working with your physician to develop an effective treatment plan. Facet disease, which is a form of spinal osteoarthritis, is characterized by the gradual breakdown of the cartilage that surrounds the facet joints. This cartilage naturally begins to wear away as part of the aging process, though additional factors can also contribute to the degenerative process.

Factors that contribute to facet disease

The facet joints link adjacent vertebrae and help them to articulate. The joints are covered in cartilage and are lubricated by small sacs of synovial fluid. The cartilage ensures that these joints can hinge freely without the friction of bone rubbing against bone. The gradual loss of water and the breakdown of collagen fibers are both part of the natural aging process, but a variety of factors can accelerate the deterioration of the cartilage, including:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Gender
  • Overexertion
  • Traumatic injury
  • Illness or infection
  • Poor posture or improper lifting

Regardless of the cause, facet disease can lead to symptoms like joint stiffness, aching, throbbing and spontaneous joint lockage, in addition to pain, tingling, numbness and weakness due to neural compression.

Developing a treatment plan

If your physician confirms that you have facet disease, then pain medication, hot/cold compresses, gentle stretching, low-impact exercise and other lifestyle modifications may help you effectively manage your symptoms. However, if your facetogenic pain does not abate after weeks or months of these conservative treatments, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures performed using advanced technology, and for your MRI or CT scan review.