What should I do if I think I have facet disease?

Facet disease is a term for osteoarthritis of the facet joints, which is caused by age-related degeneration of the cartilage and joint fluid that encases them. If you think you may have facet disease because you’re experiencing symptoms associated with this condition, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan. The pain, stiffness and traveling symptoms associated with facet joint arthritis can have a severe impact on your life, taking you away from the people and activities you love.

By positively identifying the source and location of your condition, and ruling other potentially more serious issues, your doctor can help you find treatment that is best for your situation. While facet disease is not a reversible condition, it is possible to relieve pain and regain mobility with recommended treatments, often without the need for surgery.

Diagnosing facet disease

When you see your doctor for diagnosis, he or she will perform a physical exam, review your medical history and inquire about your symptoms. Beforehand, it might be a good idea to jot down a few notes about your symptoms as the discomfort occurs so that you can describe your pain to the doctor as accurately as possible. Note the location, frequency and severity of your symptoms. Confirming a diagnosis may involve tests such as an X-ray, MRI, nerve blocks or blood work.

If your physician confirms that facet disease is the source of symptoms, initial treatment will usually be a course of conservative therapies, including:

  • Hot and cold compresses
  • Gentle, restorative yoga
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication
  • Healthy lifestyle choices like quitting smoking, losing weight or improving posture
  • Corticosteroid injections

Minimally invasive treatment options

If weeks or months of conservative treatments prove ineffective and you are being recommended for surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^

We offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.