Facet syndrome in the lumbar spine

Facet syndrome in the lumbar (lower) spine is a form of osteoarthritis affecting the facet joints in this area. In a healthy spine, these joints are covered with cartilage and a lubricating fluid, which provides protection and cushioning so the vertebrae can articulate smoothly. However, as part of the aging process, this cartilage gradually begins to wear away and cause increased joint friction. Bone-on-bone contact often causes bone spurs to develop, which may lead to painful compression of nearby spinal nerves.

If you’re looking to find relief from arthritis-related lower back pain or related symptoms in the lower extremities, the following information can help you learn more about the underlying causes of lumbar facet syndrome as well as effective treatment methods.

How facet syndrome develops in the lumbar spine

The lumbar spine is such a common region of the spine for facet syndrome to develop because of two main factors:

  • Relative flexibility. Upper body movement like bending and twisting requires the lumbar spine to be flexible. As a result, the joints and discs which allow for this flexibility are subjected to a lot of pressure and stress over time.
  • Weight-bearing responsibility. The lower back is also subjected to pressure because of its role in keeping the body upright. This means the lumbar region supports the weight of the torso, upper limbs and head for long periods of time.

Treating lumbar facet syndrome

Symptoms of this condition can be mild to seriously debilitating. In many cases, people with spinal facet syndrome are able to find lasting relief by following their doctor’s instructions for conservative treatment. A plan typically includes anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, healthy lifestyle choices like quitting smoking or improving nutrition and using hot and cold compresses. Epidural steroid injections may also be prescribed if more involved treatment is required.

In the event that these treatment options prove ineffective and your facet syndrome has become severe and chronic, surgery may become an option. If you are anxious about the risks and difficulties involved with a traditional open back procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and offer less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

Find out if you are a potential candidate by reaching out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today and asking for your no-cost MRI review.*