Understanding spinal facet syndrome

Spinal facet syndrome, which is symptoms associated with the gradual deterioration of cartilage surrounding the facet joints, becomes more likely in patients over the age of 50. While smoking, obesity, illness, injury or a genetic predisposition are also contributors, facet syndrome is mainly caused by the aging process. In addition to local aches, tenderness and stiffness around an inflamed joint, facet syndrome can also cause symptoms related to nerve compression, especially if bone spurs develop as a result of bone-on-bone friction.

If neck or back pain related to spinal facet syndrome is making your life difficult — affecting relationships and your favorite activities — gaining a better understanding of this condition is an important step in your treatment. The following information can help you as your work with your doctor or specialist to get the care you need for the life you deserve.

The effects of facet syndrome on different levels of the spine

While many people experience symptoms of facet syndrome that remain localized in the neck or back, others also experience nerve pain due to spinal narrowing and nerve compression. This can lead to symptoms in regions of the body far from the point of neural compression. The location of these symptoms can vary by the level of the spine:

  • Cervical spine. Pain may stay localized in the neck or spread throughout the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers.
  • Thoracic spine. Symptoms including pain, weakness and a pins-and-needles sensation may surround your kidneys, chest and abdomen.
  • Lumbar spine. Radiating symptoms in the lumbar spine start in the lower back and shoot down through the buttocks, hips, legs, feet and toes.

Minimally invasive treatment for facet syndrome

Spinal facet syndrome, no matter which level of the spine is affected, can often be treated conservatively with pain medication, hot/cold compresses, lifestyle changes, epidural steroid injections and intermittent rest. However, if weeks or months of these methods prove ineffective, your physician may suggest that you consider spine surgery.

Before agreeing to undergo a traditional open neck or back procedure, contact the caring and dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute. We may be able to help you find relief with minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery that offers less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

Contact us for more information and for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.