The vertebrae in the spine are connected at pairs of facet joints located at the rear of the vertebral bodies. The function of the facet joints is to allow for articulation between the vertebrae, while simultaneously preventing vertebral slippage. Facet joints are synovial, which means they achieve movement at the point of the articulating vertebrae.
As the body ages, the thin layer of articular cartilage between the facet joints begins to break down. In addition, years of wear and tear on the spine take their toll on other components of the joints, including the synovium (a thin membrane) and the joint capsule (a fibrous sac enclosing the joint). This process is known as osteoarthritis, and while there is no known cure, related symptoms such as joint pain normally can be managed using pain medication, stretching, exercise or other conservative treatment methods.
When pain continues to affect the facet joints
If facet-related neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, back pain, tenderness in the lower back or stiffness continue to plague you after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our surgeons may be able to help you using a facet thermal ablation, one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. This nerve ablation procedure is performed with a small incision and is proven effective for relief from a variety of disorders affecting the facet joints, including facet disease, facet joint syndrome, facet hypertrophy, facet arthritis and degenerative facet joints.