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The spine contains specific joints known as “facet joints” which are responsible for approximately 20% of torsional (twisting) movement. When these joints are damaged or have their function impeded by disease, it can mean pain and loss of range of motion for the individual affected. Facet disease is defined by the breakdown of joint cartilage from general wear and tear over time. Doctors use a variety of terms to describe this condition, including facet arthritis/osteoarthritis, facet joint syndrome, and facet hypertrophy.
The symptoms of facet disease can be difficult to distinguish from those of fractures, muscle tears or herniated discs. Proper evaluation by an expert in spinal conditions like Dr. Neece can help you determine which of these similar-feeling conditions you may be suffering from, if any. Possible symptoms include:
- Upper back pain (cervical facets), generally intermittent and possibly radiating to the shoulders and arms
- Lower back pain (lumbar facets), generally intermittent and possibly radiating to the buttocks and upper thighs
- Points of tenderness, usually around the damaged joint(s)
- Difficulty standing or sitting for long periods of time (sitting, especially)
Because the symptoms of facet disease can be intermittent and vague, sufferers are often led to believe that they are simply imagining a larger issue. However, it’s important to have this kind of pain evaluated by a doctor to determine if facet disease could be the cause of your pain. Damage to the facet joints by the degeneration of cartilage over time can lead to further issues, such as bone spurs, back pain and enlarged joints.
The majority of cases of facet disease can be addressed non-surgically. Long-term treatment and relief is usually achieved with proper exercise and improvement in posture, physical therapy, adjustments by a qualified chiropractor, or even carefully placed botox injections. In severe cases, surgical solutions like spinal fusion may be employed to relieve symptoms and prevent further joint degeneration between the vertebrae.
If you are experiencing vague, intermittent pain as described that may be attributable to facet disease, make an appointment with our Frisco, TX clinic to have your condition evaluated for proper treatment.