Where is facet joint pain felt?

Facet disease (also known as facet syndrome) affects small joints that link the spinal vertebrae, but can cause pain in various parts of the body. That’s because sensitive nerve roots pass through these joints as they travel to other areas, such as the arms and legs. In addition to localized pain and headaches, a degenerated facet joint can cause distant pain and other symptoms if nerve tissue is pinched or compressed. If facet disease causes nerve compression, the specific areas of the body affected will depend on which spinal nerves are irritated and the path that those nerves take.

What are the symptoms of facet disease?

Facet syndrome can sometimes interfere with spinal movements, such as twisting and bending. For instance, facet syndrome in the neck (cervical spine) can make it difficult to look to the left or right without turning the entire body. On the other hand, facet syndrome in the lower back (lumbar spine) can make it uncomfortable to stand up straight or get up out of a chair.

In addition to neck and back problems, facet disease can cause symptoms such as pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling sensations in other areas of the body. For example, a compressed nerve in the cervical spine can affect the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Likewise, a compressed nerve in the lumbar spine can affect the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet.

How can facet disease pain be treated?

While conservative treatment can be effective for breaking a cycle of facet joint pain, the relief is usually temporary. If the symptoms return with increasing frequency or severity, surgery may be an appropriate next step. In certain situations, a surgeon can relieve pain by desensitizing tiny nerve endings within a facet joint.

If you’d like to learn about surgical treatments for facet disease, contact Laser Spine Institute and request a free MRI review.* We can explain your options and help you determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery.