Facet syndrome symptoms and causes

Also known as facet disease or osteoarthritis of the spine, facet syndrome is a fairly common condition that can affect the joints in the spine. Facet joints are present along the length of the spine between vertebrae. They provide stability to the spine while also allowing movements that involve the neck and back, including leaning, bending and twisting. When age or other factors causes a facet joint to deteriorate, it can result in pain and other symptoms.

Facet syndrome symptoms

The symptoms of facet syndrome will generally be felt at the location of the affected facet joint. The condition can appear in the cervical spine (upper back), thoracic spine (mid-back) or lumbar spine (lower back), and is characterized by:

  • Aches and intermittent pain
  • Tenderness
  • Inflammation of the facet joint
  • Difficulty twisting or leaning
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches

In some cases, bone spurs may develop on the affected vertebrae as the body tries to stabilize the area. These bony growths may also cause pain if they encroach on the space where the spinal cord or nerve roots are located. In these situations, pain, numbness or tingling may radiate out to an extremity, depending on the pathway of the affected nerve.

Facet syndrome causes

You may be wondering what happened that caused these various symptoms to appear. One of the most common causes of facet syndrome is the natural aging process combined with the constant use of the spinal column. Over the years, the spine endures a lot of wear and tear as it supports the body and allows us to move freely. Eventually, the cartilage on the facet joints deteriorates, and the vertebral bones come in contact with each other, causing pain and inflammation.

Other factors may also contribute to developing this condition, including genetic predisposition, obesity, a traumatic injury, poor posture, playing high-impact sports or having a physically demanding career.

Treatment at Laser Spine Institute

Many patients with facet syndrome seek treatment at Laser Spine Institute when conservative treatment options do not provide the relief they need. Our surgeons are highly experienced in minimally invasive spine surgery and have helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from their spinal conditions. To find out if you’re a candidate for a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today for a no-cost MRI review*.