What is facet syndrome?

Facet syndrome is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the facet joints of the spine. Since this is typically age-related, people older than age 50 are more likely to develop this condition. Osteoarthritis occurs when joint cartilage begins to become brittle and thin, which can lead to joint inflammation due to increased contact. The spine is a region that is especially vulnerable to this because of the amount of weight the spine has to support on a daily basis. While facet syndrome may not be immediately noticeable, it can lead to symptoms that have a debilitating effect on your ability to accomplish normal activities.

Symptoms of facet syndrome

When cartilage deteriorates on a spinal facet joint’s articular surfaces, the joint can become inflamed. The nerves running to the joint capsule become irritated and painful, producing the deep aching sensation associated with many forms of arthritis. In addition, other parts of the body might experience radiating pain that travels the length of an affected nerve root or the spinal cord. This type of pain is often related to bone spurs, also known as osteophytes. These bony protrusions grow along the edges of the facet joint in response to inflammation and aren’t necessarily painful. However, when the bone spurs cause compression of a nearby nerve or the spinal cord, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Radiating pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness

These and other symptoms related to facet syndrome can have a severe impact on the ability to perform basic tasks, causing patients to seek diagnosis and treatment from their doctor.

Treating facet syndrome

When pain and other symptoms associated with facet syndrome affect day-to-day life, it’s important to consult your doctor to discuss symptom management. Arthritis issues can often be managed using a combination of pain medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, corticosteroid injections and other conservative treatment methods. If these methods fail to relieve symptoms, surgery may be recommended. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the many benefits of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures that are performed using muscle-sparing techniques. The orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons at Laser Spine Institute have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from a range of spine conditions, including facet syndrome.

We are happy to offer a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.