Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joints are located on the back side of the spine on each side where two vertebrae meet. Cartilage between the bones and joints is surrounded by a sac-like capsule filled with lubricating liquid to reduce friction. These components work together to allow the spine to bend and twist. However, if degenerative changes in the spine cause weight to shift, issues such as inflammation within the facet joints can develop.

Facet Joint Syndrome Symptoms

Inflammation in facet joints along the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine can cause pain, soreness, and stiffness. The pain often takes the form of a dull ache in the lower back, eventually spreading to the buttocks. Facet joint syndrome in the neck can be felt in the shoulders and back of the head.

Pain can be triggered or worsened with prolonged periods of activity, even if it’s merely sitting or standing too long.

In some cases, changing positions may offer temporary relief — a common sign of facet joint syndrome.

Facet Joint Syndrome Risk Factors

The following factors can increase the risk of developing facet joint syndrome:

  • Injury
  • Repetitive movements at the workplace
  • Obesity
  • Poor posture
  • Advanced age

Facet Joint Syndrome Treatment Options

Conservative treatments for facet joint syndrome involve postural correction through physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, soft tissue massage, and manipulation to the affected painful area. When these options are no longer effective, facet joint injections or medial branch blocks can help relieve facet joint pain. If pain is relieved after the injections, radiofrequency ablation may be suggested.

If you’re looking for diagnosis or treatment for facet joint syndrome, the staff at the Oklahoma Center for Spine and Pain Solutions would love to visit with you about your next steps. Our team is fully equipped to properly diagnose and provide effective treatment options, and we are often able to see new patients the same week they contact us.

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