The facet joints are located at each point where two vertebrae meet. You have 33 vertebrae in the spinal column. Every vertebra comprises two facet joints on the posterior or backside of the spine. You can think of them as a hinge that allows movement, such as twisting or bending. The facet joints are not just bones. They are covered with cartilage that cushions and protects them. Sometimes facet joints develop a sickness referred to as facet joint syndrome Shrewsbury.
Here is everything you need to know;
Facet joint syndrome is a type of osteoarthritis
Facet joint syndrome is a type of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a general term for any degenerative joint disease. Therefore, facet joint syndrome is one specific type of osteoarthritis.
If you want to be technical, facet joints are diarthrodial or synovial joints. We have synovial fluid in our joints that allow bones to glide smoothly over each other when we move. This fluid acts as a cushion and lubricant to minimize the friction between the bones.
In facet joint syndrome, the cartilage wears away, allowing the bone under it to rub against another bone instead of gliding over it. This can result in significant pain and stiffness in your spine.
What are facet joint syndrome symptoms?
Symptoms of facet joint syndrome include:
- Pain in the back or neck
- Restricted movement
Actually, this pain can radiate from the back or neck to other body areas. The pain may worsen after sitting, standing, or lifting, especially after sleeping on it overnight.
How is Diagnosis Done?
Diagnosis is made with an MRI scan, a facet joint injection, or a discogram. The facet joints are inspected with an MRI scan, and some doctors may use this to rule out other conditions. But the test is not especially accurate in detecting damage to your facet joints. A local anesthetic injection into your facet joint can confirm if facet joint arthritis is causing your pain.
If the pain decreases when the joint is injected, you probably have to facet joint arthritis. A discogram involves injecting dye into a disc while imaging scans are taken, and pressure is applied to the area to see if the pressure causes pain. This will help diagnose whether a disc may be causing pain in your back.
Treatment includes physical therapy and medications
Physical therapy-You may benefit from physical therapy to improve your neck and shoulder range of motion, strength, and flexibility. Exercises that you may find useful include yoga, Pilates, or tai chi.
Medications-Depending on your situation, your doctor might suggest pain medications in addition to or instead of physical therapy. Some helpful medications for facet joint syndrome include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen sodium (Aleve), and celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter medication used to treat mild to moderate pain. Its effects are similar to NSAIDs, but it does not upset the stomach like NSAIDs.
- Muscle relaxants including baclofen and methocarbamol (Robaxin)
- Antidepressants such as duloxetine , venlafaxine XR(Effexor XR), amitriptyline, or nortriptyline
- Injections into the affected area with steroids or other medicines may provide short-term relief of symptoms
Facet joint syndrome can be treated
Orthopedic doctors may prescribe physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support your spine and reduce stress on the facet joints. Injections of corticosteroids or other medicines into or around the facet joints can reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling for at least several months.
Surgical treatment for facet joint syndrome can include radiofrequency denervation. This uses heat to temporarily disrupt nerve signals from going to the nerves in facet joints. This procedure often provides several months of pain relief. Another surgical option is arthroplasty, which involves removing the cartilage from your facet joint and fusing it with bone grafts to prevent painful movement in your spinal bones.
Finally, if you have problems with your facet joints, get in touch with an orthopedic doctor now!