How is facet syndrome treated?

Facet syndrome – also known as osteoarthritis in the facet joints of the spine – is usually treated conservatively, using a combination of nonsurgical treatments. Conservative treatment options include medications, exercise and lifestyle modifications. These provide sufficient relief for most people with spinal joint pain. However, in the unlikely event that conservative treatments don’t produce the necessary results, surgical options are also available.

Before beginning treatment, however, it’s common for a physician to perform a diagnostic facet injection to confirm the issue at hand. This test can help determine whether a patient’s symptoms are being caused by degeneration of a facet joint or a different condition, such as spinal stenosis. Facet joint treatment differs from treatments for other common spinal conditions, so a proper diagnosis is crucial to developing an effective treatment plan.

Conservative facet syndrome treatment

A physician can typically guide a patient through conservative facet syndrome treatment. He or she may recommend a variety of nonsurgical therapies, including:

  • Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Prescription medications for more persistent pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy and at-home exercise
  • Weight loss, if appropriate

Patients can also use complementary and alternative therapies to help with their facet syndrome symptoms. These options include yoga, chiropractic care, aromatherapy and massage.

Surgical facet syndrome treatment

If, after a period of several months, conservative therapies are not providing an adequate amount of pain relief, or if the pain gets progressively worse, surgery might become an option. One of the most common ways to surgically treat facet syndrome at Laser Spine Institute is with a procedure known as facet thermal ablation. Using a laser and other tools, a surgeon can treat painful nerves in a facet joint, helping to alleviate pain.

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform facet thermal ablation and our other surgeries as minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. Compared to traditional, open neck and back surgeries, our options offer a number of benefits, including shorter recovery times ^ and less scarring. For many individuals, Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive procedures are the clinically appropriate first choice compared to traditional open back surgery.

To find out if you’re a candidate minimally invasive, outpatient surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact us to receive an MRI review at no cost.*