How painful is facet syndrome?

Facet syndrome, or osteoarthritis of the spine, is a degenerative condition that can affect people differently. Common symptoms of this condition include localized pain, neck or back stiffness and difficulty bending or twisting. The severity of these symptoms will depend on how much inflammation is occurring in the spine.

In its early stages, facet syndrome may only produce intermittent symptoms or very mild symptoms. These cases can often be managed effectively using a conservative treatment plan. Many individuals use a combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy or targeted stretching techniques, periods of rest and hot and/or cold compresses to manage temporary flare-ups of pain and other symptoms.

Advanced cases of facet syndrome

As a degenerative condition, facet syndrome can worsen over time, leading to more severe symptoms. As the facet joints continue to deteriorate, they can cause adjacent vertebrae to rub directly against each other. This can result in the formation of a bone spur, a calcium growth that develops on the bone as a protective measure. On its own, a bone spur will not cause any additional symptoms. However, if this growth causes itself or a nearby structure to come in contact with a nerve root or the spinal cord, symptoms may include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramps or spasms
  • Radiating or shooting pain

These symptoms can occur along the entire nerve pathway and may be experienced throughout an entire arm or leg.

Surgery for facet syndrome

If your pain and other facet syndrome symptoms are interfering with your ability to go about your daily activities and conservative treatments are not offering the relief you need, you may need to consider surgery as your next step. Laser Spine Institute specializes in minimally invasive surgery to treat facet syndrome and many other spinal conditions, and we can provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our outpatient surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information.