Facet Joint Syndrome Pain Management

Facet joints allow for small twisting, turning, and bending movements between adjacent vertebrae in the spine.  Facet joint syndrome, or osteoarthritis, is most commonly seen in adults over 50 years of age and occurs when facet joints become worn or torn. The wear creates bone spurs and enlarges the joints.  Most people develop it due to the deterioration of the cartilage in the spine over time, but it can also be caused by injury, accident, or overuse.  When you experience chronic pain and/or severe spasms anywhere in your neck or back and it worsens when standing or leaning backwards, you might be suffering from facet joint syndrome or chronic axial back pain. The facet joints can become inflamed and cause pain, soreness, and stiffness.  The facet joints are innervated by a small medial branch nerve that extends from the exiting nerve to the facet joints and into your muscle column in your back. This nerve transmits the sensation of pain from your back to your brain.

Facet joint syndrome may also be known as chronic axial back pain. Common symptoms include:

  • Chronic pain or severe spasms in your neck or back
  • Symptoms that become worse when you stand
  • No pain when leaning forward, but severe pain or spasms when leaning backwards

 

Millions of Americans suffer daily from the facet joint condition, but many people don’t ever go to the doctor for treatment, because they fear that their only option will be surgery.  Fortunately, there are numerous non-surgical options available at the Spine Institute of North America. Learn more about facet joint injections and other pain management techniques we can use to help you find relief.


What Is Facet Joint Syndrome?

Facet joint syndrome is the pain that occurs at the joint in between two adjoining vertebrae. It happens when these joints, which allow movement and flexibility in the spine, get worn out.

Normally, these joints have cartilage in between the vertebrae. The cartilage and synovial fluid help the joints to move smoothly and protect them against wear and tear. When these joints become painful and inflamed, the condition is known as facet joint syndrome.

What Causes Chronic Facet Joint Pain?

In addition to degeneration of the spine joints due to age and wear, other factors can cause this condition:

  • Sedentary lifestyle: People who spend most of their day seated at a desk can develop facet joint syndrome. It leads to weakness in the muscles and poor circulation and fitness. Engaging in regular physical exercise can help improve blood flow to the joints. It can also help lubricate and nourish your spinal joints.
  • Obesity: Being obese or overweight will increase stress on the joints, and this raises the rate at which the cartilage at each spinal joint degenerates.
  • Trauma: Having a severe injury during sports, a car accident or falling can place a great amount of stress on the facet joints and increase the natural degeneration of the spine.

What Are the Best Facet Joint Syndrome Pain Management and Treatment Solutions?

Some conservative approaches to facet joint syndrome pain management include the following:

  • Physical therapy: A professional therapist will help you do exercises that will strengthen core muscles, stretch the areas where there’s compression and help you develop good body mechanics.
  • Medication: Your doctor can recommend various over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Using facet joint injections: This option is an effective method for facet joint syndrome diagnosis in NJ. An injection is placed into the joint to ensure that we’ve properly located the exact joint that requires further treatment.

Popular surgical options for facet joint pain treatment in NJ include the following:

  • Radiofrequency: This procedure uses radiofrequency energy to destroy the functionality of the nerve.
  • Endoscopic rhizotomy: This option numbs pain-causing nerves caused by facet joints.

For more information about your facet joint pain treatment options in New Jersey, contact us at Spine Institute of North America.

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