Cervical facet syndrome symptoms

Cervical facet syndrome symptoms develop when the layer of cartilage that covers the facet joints in the cervical (upper) spine begins to deteriorate, often due to age and general wear and tear of the spine.

When the cartilage deteriorates, the facet joint bones may begin to rub against each other causing inflammation. Joint inflammation can lead to the spine developing osteophytes, or bone spurs, which are smooth growths that develop near damaged facet joints in an attempt to stabilize a weakened area of the spine.

While cervical facet syndrome and any resulting bone spurs are not painful on their own, the inflammation and additional growth can come in contact with surrounding tissue and nerves, producing painful symptoms.

Symptoms of cervical facet syndrome

Cervical facet syndrome symptoms may develop when a nearby nerve root is pinched. These symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Inflammation
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Limited range of motion when turning the head and bending the neck
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle fatigue in the neck, shoulder or arm
  • Reduced reaction time in arm or hand

Cervical facet syndrome symptoms can also arise in the months and years following a neck injury or potentially harmful repetitive movements, such as swinging a golf club, bending, lifting or consistently maintaining improper posture.

Treatments for cervical facet syndrome

Initial treatment for cervical facet syndrome is often conservative, allowing the body to heal through nonsurgical methods. Conservative treatments usually include such things as:

  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medication
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Low-impact exercise

Patients often find that alternative treatments such as spinal manipulation, massage, acupuncture and herbal supplements also help to relieve symptoms.

Conservative treatment methods typically provide relief from cervical facet syndrome symptoms after several months of therapy, but for others, symptoms can persist and have a disruptive effect on quality of life. In these more severe cases, surgery may be recommended.

Laser Spine Institute and our board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive spine surgery that has helped thousands of patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Unlike the highly invasive techniques used during traditional open neck and back procedures, our minimally invasive spine surgery uses a small incision and muscle-sparing techniques, allowing our patients to experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication.^

To find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today for a free MRI review.*