Facet joint syndrome, also referred to as spinal osteoarthritis, is a condition that occurs when the cartilage that lines the facet joints along your spine begin to deteriorate. When this happens, the bones can rub directly against each other, resulting in back pain, symptoms of sciatica and other issues.
What are Facet Joints?
The facet joints are the joint structures that connect the vertebrae to one another and influence your body’s ability to bend and twist. At the same time, the joints also serve to keep your back from slipping too far forward. Similar to what you would find within your knee joints, these particular joints feature cartilage that allow for smooth movement at the point in which the 2 bones meet.
What are the Symptoms of Facet Joint Syndrome?
The symptoms of facet joint syndrome vary depending on the location of the affected joint(s), but can include the following.
- In the beginning, you may simply experience an aching feeling in your back or neck that fades and returns again after overuse.
- As the condition progresses, pain can occur more frequently and for longer periods.
- Pain that is more intense at the start and end of the day or with a change in weather.
- Severe stiffness or discomfort when rising from a chair or getting out of your vehicle.
- A joint in the neck suffering from this condition can lead to headaches or difficultly with normal head movements.
- A joint in the back suffering from this condition can lead to pain in the lower back, pelvic area, thighs or buttocks.
- Neck pain that radiates out into the shoulders, arms or head.
- A greater level of discomfort while leaning backward as compared to forward.
- A feeling of numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Difficulty standing erect or noticeably stooped posture.
Facet Joint Syndrome Diagnosis and Treatment
The symptoms that occur with facet joint syndrome can be very similar to other neck and lower back pain conditions. To make an accurate diagnosis, you physician will perform a procedure called a facet joint injection or medial branch block. Targeting the suspected joint, your doctor will administer an injection that contains a small amount of anesthetic. If the injection results in relief of your symptoms, then you have facet joint syndrome.
Once the source of pain has been identified, longer-term relief is provided through another injection that contains an anti-inflammatory steroid, or if the problem is chronic, a Radiofrequency Ablation procedure may be performed to remove the sensation to the affected joint long-term. The medication administered through facet joint injections reduces the inflammation and swelling of the tissue in and around the facet joint space.
Other potential treatment options for facet joint syndrome can include the use of over the counter or prescription oral medication, modifying your daily physical activities and physical therapy. Individuals who experience severe symptoms or do not respond to conservative treatment methods may require a surgery known as a Rhizotomy. A Rhizotomy is a procedure that uses an electrical current to selectively destroy the nerve fibers which are carrying pain signals to the brain.
Facet Joint Syndrome Treatment in Austin
The Diagnostic Pain Center in Austin offers a variety of minimally invasive treatment options for facet joint syndrome, including facet joint injections. Dr. Robert S. Marks or Dr. Sauman A. Rafii will work with you to develop the best treatment plan to relieve your pain and symptoms from facet joint syndrome. With appropriate treatment and pain relief, our Austin patients are able to continue living a healthy, active lifestyle.
Call (512) 981-7246 today to learn more about facet joint syndrome treatment in Austin. If you would like to request an appointment online, you can do so now through our online appointment request form.