The facet joints are small joints that link the vertebrae of the spine. These joints provide stability and allow for the spine to move and bend in a normal manner. Each vertebra has two sets of facets joints, one pair facing upwards and one is facing downwards. The facet joints are like a hinge and are located at the backside of the spine.
What is Facet Joint Arthritis?
As we age, and our bodies go through normal wear and tear, the cartilage that surround the facet joints begins to harden and thicken – often causing pain and tenderness. This condition is known as facet joint arthritis or facet arthropathy – a degenerative condition that is a major cause of both neck and lower back pain.
Causes of Facet Joint Arthritis
Facet joint arthritis is generally the result of normal wear and tear of the spinal disks and vertebrae as we age. Therefore, most individuals who suffer from this condition are over the age of 55. Common causes include:
- Age – Degeneration of the joints over time.
- Weight – Obesity and being overweight places additional stress on all our joints, including the facet joints. This is a main cause of facet joint arthritis.
- Gender – Women are 2 times as likely to suffer from this condition than men.
- Accident or Trauma – Due to some sort of sudden injury or collision, the facet joints can suffer damage and develop arthritis.
Facet joint arthritis generally presents itself with pain in a specific area of either the neck or back. The pain associated with facet arthritis, tends to worsen over time, with physical activity – at its worst in the morning.
Common symptoms of facet joint arthritis are similar to a number of other spine issues. They include:
- Radiating, pain in the neck and lower back.
- Poor flexibility and movement.
- Tenderness in the affected area.
- Pain radiating from the back to the legs.
- Neck pain radiating to the shoulders and back.
I order to diagnose your facet joint arthritis, your physician will recommend imagine such as an X-Ray, CT scan, and MRI. Once you have determined the condition, it is time to seek treatment. Depending on the severity of our issues and the symptoms you feel, different method may be needed.
Non-Surgical Options include:
- Physical Therapy
- Medication – Anti-Inflammatory drugs and pain relievers.
- Hot & Cold Therapy
- Radiofrequency nerve treatment that blocks the nerves and their pain signals.
When it comes to facet joint arthritis, surgery is rarely necessary, however, the only surgical treatment that is ideal for stopping the motion of the joint is Fusion Surgery, in order to connect the bones and prevent their unwanted movements any longer.
For more information on facet joint arthritis, other spine conditions, or to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. Arutyunyan today.