Lumbosacral facet syndrome

Lumbosacral facet syndrome is a type of degenerative arthritis condition that occurs between the lower back and pelvis.

Specifically, lumbosacral facet syndrome develops when the protective cartilage on the facet joints in the lumbar spine — the joints that connect the vertebrae — begins to wear down and leaves the joints susceptible to damage. This condition may cause significant pain throughout the lower body if left untreated.

Is lumbosacral facet syndrome common?

A degenerative spine condition in the lumbar (lower) spine is common. In fact, the lumbar spine is one of the most susceptible areas of the spine to damage and general wear over the years.

The lumbar spine is responsible for supporting most of the body’s weight, as well as stabilizing it during movements. As the body gains weight and the muscles weaken, due to inactivity or normal age causes, more pressure is placed on the components of the lumbar spine. This can speed up the natural deterioration process that happens to the spine with age.

How does lumbosacral facet syndrome develop?

The degeneration of facet joint surfaces often occurs as part of the natural aging process. This degeneration mainly affects the thick layer of cartilage that covers and protects facet joints, leading to spinal osteoarthritis.

In addition to aging, the deterioration rate of the facet joints can also be accelerated by injury. As the cartilage of the joints disappears, bone-on-bone contact occurs, causing inflammation that can develop into severe, chronic pain in the lower body. Eventually, the joints lose their ability to function properly.

Treatment for lumbosacral facet syndrome

Physicians initially try to treat lumbosacral facet syndrome with a series of conservative measures. The goal of these moderate treatments to relieve the pressure on the damaged facet joint and reduce the pain signals from the pinched nerve.

Some of the usual techniques recommended to a patient suffering from lumbosacral facet syndrome include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Stretching exercises
  • A healthy diet
  • Deep tissue massage
  • The application of heat
  • Vertebral manipulation

In many instances, some combination of these therapies will lead to considerable relief for patients. However, in some cases, patients may not respond to conservative treatment and surgery is recommended.

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