Facet Disease

Facet Disease

Much like Degenerative Disc Disease, Facet disease is somewhat of a wrong or inaccurate use of a name or term. Our facet joints support the movement of our vertebral bodies. As we age, the facet joints can experience wear and tear just like any other joint in our body. As with most joints in the human body, our facet joins are lines with cartilage to provide cushion and prevent bones from grinding other bones. With wear and tear over time, this cartilage can break down and cause mild to extreme debilitating pain for a patient.

Facet disease can also be called other things as well. Sometimes it is referred to as facet arthritis, facet joint syndrome, or facet hypertrophy. All of which refer to the same pathology.

Although facet disease can be diagnosed at any vertebral segment of the spine, it is most commonly diagnosed in the lower spine simply due to the additional weight and range of motion that the lumbar spine supports.

What causes Facet Disease?

There are many different ways in which a patient may become diagnosed with Facet disease.

Facet disease can be degenerative — this means that no specific trauma/accident caused it. It was simply caused due to natural wear and tear on the facet joints from aging and daily stress put on the spine.

Facet disease can be caused by trauma — if a patient was ever in a accident or slip and fall, this can compromise the structure of the spine. Certain conditions like spondylolisthesis, disc herniations, or fractures (which often result from trauma) can cause facet joints to overwork and become inflamed or arthritic.

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Symptoms a patient may experience from a facet disease can include:

Pain that is local to the mid back, low back, or neck. Typically this is referred to axial or localized pain

Numbness and weakness in the arms, hand, and fingers (cervical facet joints

Procedures

Minimally invasive procedures that may be considered when suffering from facet disease

Radio-Frequency Ablation

Radio-Frequency Ablation is a procedure that aims to address pain that is being caused by the sensory nerves of the facet joints. RFA’s are a minimally invasive procedure that have been used to treat arthritis of the spine for quite some …

Epidural Steroid Injection

Epidural steroid injections (or ESI) are typically performed after non-invasive measures (physical therapy and/or chiropractic) have failed. An ESI procedure involves delivering a steroid medication directly to the site of the inflammation…

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