Facet joint syndrome: lumbar spine treatment

At the back of each vertebra are two pairs of joints, called facet joints, which link the spine together and allow for flexibility. The facet joints are under almost continual strain and are particularly prone to wearing down. As we age, these joints can become inflamed due to the drying out of protective cartilage, causing pain and immobility — a condition called facet joint syndrome. Facet joint syndrome is especially common in the most flexible portions of the back — the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions of the spine due to the amount of weight and movement these areas sustain.

This can be a debilitating condition to live with, but it is possible to find effective treatment that allows for a return to normal activity. By learning both about the causes of facet joint syndrome and the full range of treatments, you can work more closely with your doctor to develop the best plan for your needs.

Treating facet joint syndrome

Upon diagnosis of facet joint syndrome in the lumbar spine, the first step is usually a course of conservative treatment. Many patients are able to find lasting relief from lumbar facet joint syndrome with the following methods:

  • Periods of rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Facet joint injections
  • Better nutrition and regular light exercise
  • Posture improvement
  • Alternative treatments such as chiropractic care, herbal remedies and massage therapy

It’s important to work closely with your doctor as you seek relief from your symptoms. Finding the right combination of treatments for your situation can take some time and patience. Surgery is usually seen as a last-resort treatment for facet joint syndrome, but it can become an option if conservative options are exhausted without bringing you lasting relief.

If surgery becomes an option

At Laser Spine Institute, we can help you if your back pain does not improve after months of conservative treatment, but without subjecting you to the risks and long recovery time^ associated with traditional open back surgery. Our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgeries have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from facet joint syndrome and other spinal conditions since 2005.

To find out more and see if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for a no-cost review of your CT scan or MRI report*.