Facet Joint Syndrome

Introduction

Facet Joint Syndrome is a type of osteoarthritis characterized by joint pain in the spine. This joint pain can permeate and cause discomfort in the back. Although everyone has the potential to develop facet joint syndrome, it typically affects patients above the age of 50. If left untreated, facet joint syndrome can develop into chronic spine or back pain, making it difficult for you to conduct routine activities without distress.

What is Facet Joint Syndrome?

Facet joint syndrome is a type of osteoarthritis or arthritis of the spine. Individuals who suffer from facet joint syndrome will experience joint pain and have difficulties maneuvering. Facet joints are the joints in the spine that are responsible for enabling approximately one-fifth of the neck and lower back’s ability to rotate. Facet joints are found at almost every level of the spine. However, facet joint syndrome usually develops in facets in the neck and lower back where pressure on the spine is greatest.

The Causes of Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet Joint Syndrome is caused by the degeneration of facet joints in the spine. The disease can develop in any part of the spinal cord, but your neck and lower back, which carry a lot of the body’s weight, are more susceptible to joint deterioration. As the body ages, the cartilage surrounding joints break down, resulting in joint stiffness or inflammation. Inflammation will impede the joint’s ability to produce essential lubricating fluid, which in turn will result in stiffness and further cartilage deterioration. Facet joints are vital to movement, flexibility, and facilitate your ability to bend at the waist. When facet joints swell, they can pinch local nerves, causing sharp pain.

The Symptoms of Facet Joint Syndrome

The primary symptom of facet joint syndrome is pain. This pain can range from mild to severe depending on the area in which it occurs. Joint deterioration generally affects the lower back. Pain that originates in the back can sometimes affect other areas, often traveling down the to your buttocks or your legs. Individuals who suffer from this disease typically experience soreness or swelling around the joint areas, reduced spinal flexibility, discomfort when twist or bending, and poor posture due to pain.

The Treatment of Facet Joint Syndrome

Treatment options for this condition fall into two categories: long term and short term treatment. Long term options generally involve maneuver related exercises or physical therapy. These physical treatments will help reduce pressure and pain in the neck and the lower back. Short term solutions focus on reducing pain symptoms. Some doctors may recommend non-prescription anti-inflammatory medication such as acetaminophen, heating pads or a cold compress to temporarily relieve joint pain.

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