Facet Joint Syndrome


It’s the job of facet joints to provide flexibility and stability to the spine. However, when the surrounding cartilage deteriorates, facet joints often are the source of chronic pain. In patients diagnosed with facet joint syndrome the cartilage coating around the facet joints have broken down and have become damaged. Bones without cushion rubbing against each other can become the source of spinal pain and inflammation. Misdiagnosis can sometimes occur because of the difficulty in determining the particular source of the patient’s back pain. Using joint blocks and other diagnostic tools, The Spine & Pain Center has the ability to diagnose and properly treat facet joint syndrome.


Facet joint syndrome is more frequent as people age and it is common for intervertebral discs to begin to degenerate over time. Younger patients have also developed facet joint syndrome following a spinal injury or as a result of everyday wear and tear as well.


The location of pain from facet joint syndrome varies and occurs in all regions of the spine, depending upon the location of the damaged joint. Patients may have a hard time moving their neck, resulting in headaches and upper back pain. Damaged joints in the lumbar spine region sometimes cause patients to have difficulty walking and they can feel pain in the lower back, buttocks, and legs.


Rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications are often the most prescribed treatments to control the pain associated with facet joint syndrome at first diagnosis. Physical therapy is another option aimed at helping the patient regain mobility and strength in addition to practicing pain relief techniques. Should the pain continue, physicians at The Spine & Pain Center could administer a facet joint block. The injection often provides pain relief to patients for several months. In cases where the pain is too great and physical therapy is not an option, some patients are treated with a facet joint block as a first option and repeated if necessary.