Which facet syndrome medication options are right for you?

For patients with facet syndrome, medication may prove to be a vital tool in alleviating pain. Facet syndrome is known by many other names, including facet joint disease or spinal osteoarthritis.

This condition affects the facet joints of the spine, which are located between the vertebrae and provide the spine flexibility, allowing the vertebrae to hinge and bend. When the cartilage that lines the facet joints degenerates, or wears down over time, the unprotected vertebrae may rub directly together, which can damage the facet joints and may lead to bone spur formation and symptoms of pain, tenderness, stiffness and inflammation.

Types of medications

Physicians often prescribe pain medication as part of the initial conservative treatment of facet syndrome. There are several options for facet syndrome medication that are often highly effective in relieving pain. Medications often suggested or prescribed include:

  • NSAIDs — Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin work to inhibit the body’s enzymes that cause inflammation and pain. They are usually effective in treating mild to moderate pain.
  • Opioids — Opioids fall under the class of narcotic drugs and therefore are stronger and often more effective at treating moderate to severe facet syndrome pain. Types of opioid medications include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine.

In addition to prescription medications, physicians may also recommend facet joint blocks as a treatment and diagnostic tool.

A block is an injection of anesthetic (numbing) medication near the damaged facet joint and pinched nerve that is causing your pain and symptoms. The injection helps to block the pinched nerve from sending pain signals to the brain and other areas of the body.

Additional treatment options

In some cases, patients may not respond to conservative treatments such as medication and physical therapy, and surgery is suggested.

If you have been recommended for spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery. Because of the smaller incision used during our procedures (typically a less than 1-inch incision), our patients can experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication than patients who opt for traditional spine surgery.

To find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review.*