Facet Joint Disease

The facet joints connect the vertebrae to one another. They are like any other joint in your body in that they have cartilage that lines the joints, allowing the bone to glide smoothly over one another, and a capsule that surrounds the joint. The facet joint provides support, stability and mobility to the spine. Facet joint disease occurs when these joints become stressed and damaged. This type of injury to the spine can be attributed to everyday wear and tear, repetitive work and over-use or a traumatic accident. 

Facet injury is marked by localized pain and stiffness and limited range of motion. Many experience worsening symptoms with arching backward and feel improvement with bending forward. As the condition deteriorates, more pressure is applied to nearby joints further exacerbating the condition.  A possible result of facet disease is spondylolisthesis, which occurs when a vertebra slips forward in relation to an adjacent vertebra.  When rest and anti-inflammatory medication does not subside pain from facet disease there are a number of non-operative treatment options available.  Both diagnostic and therapeutic facet blocks can assist in identifying the levels where the pain initiates from and offer relief.  If injections provide temporary relief, a radio frequency ablation may offer a more durable resolution.   Our Pain Management and Spine specialists are available to evaluate patients with facet disease and discuss the minimally invasive and advanced non-surgical procedural options available.