Treating Facet Syndrome For Good
Also known as facet joint syndrome, facet syndrome is a condition affecting the joints in the spine, causing pain and discomfort. A common symptom of facet syndrome is that the pain worsens with movement. Several non-surgical treatment options are available to reduce pain, strengthen surrounding muscles, and improve quality of life.
Causes of facet syndrome
Located on the back of the spine, facet joints connect the vertebrae. The wear and tear of the joints in the spine can cause facet syndrome to occur. Age, being overweight, poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, and trauma can all cause the joints to become damaged.
Which joints are most affected?
Facet syndrome can affect any facet joints in the spine, but some joints are more commonly affected than others. In the lumbar region, the lower lumbar joints are most affected due to supporting the upper body's weight. In the cervical region, the upper cervical joints, which allow the head to move in different directions, are most affected due to ongoing wear and tear.
A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise program to help strengthen the muscles that support the affected joints, improve the range of motion (ROM), and reduce pain and inflammation. Core strengthening can help reduce joint stress and improve overall posture and alignment. A physical therapist can teach specific stretches to target muscles that are weak or tight to reduce stiffness and soreness and teach proper body mechanics and ergonomics.
Another option is to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain. The medications work by blocking chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. Injections of corticosteroids can also be used to reduce inflammation and pain. The injections can last several weeks or months, but long-term use is not recommended.
When conservative treatments fail
In cases where the pain is severe or does not respond to other treatments, surgery may be recommended. Surgery can remove damaged tissue and repair or replace the affected joints. A laminectomy is a common procedure involving removing a portion of the lamina, a bony part of the vertebra covering the spinal cord, to relieve pressure on nerves and reduce pain. Other surgical options include a lumbar spinal fusion, facetectomy, nerve ablation, and discectomy.
The proper treatment can help manage the pain associated with facet syndrome and improve a person’s quality of life. Working closely with a doctor can ensure patients find the best treatment option. People can also take an active role by staying informed about the condition, following a doctor’s treatment plan, and making lifestyle changes to reduce stress on the affected joints. Facet syndrome is a condition that can be managed with the proper treatment.