Facet Syndrome (Spinal Joint Arthritis)

 

Facet arthritis is a syndrome of the small zygapophysial joints or synovial joints from the cervical to lumbar region and are one of the root causes of localized or axial back or neck pain. The facet joints are well lubricated and allow for nearly 20% rotation in the lumbar and cervical region. They are also well innervated by small medial branch nerves that carry pain signals, often manifesting in back pain or spasm.

Causes

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Trauma
  • Bone Spurs or Reactive Bone Formation

History and physical exam. Pain is often localized to the lower back and neck. Evaluation of the spine reveals pain and limitations with range of motion.

Imaging studies such as Radiographs, MRIs, CT Scans and Bone Scans can help diagnose Facet Syndrome.

Diagnostic nerve blocks (also called medial branch blocks) can be diagnostic if they provide significant short-term pain relief.

Management

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Trauma
  • Bone Spurs or Reactive Bone Formation
  • Diagnosis
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and other analgesic medications.
  • Physical therapy to strengthen core muscles.
  • Radiofrequency neurotomy of the small medial branch sensory nerves that innervate the facet joints.
  • Spinal decompression surgery.

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