Facet joint disease, which is also known as facet syndrome, spinal osteoarthritis, facet hypertrophy or facet arthritis, is a spinal condition occurs when the facet joints in the spine degenerate to the point of causing painful symptoms.
Facet joints traverse the entire length of the spine and are located on either side of every vertebrae. As with many joints, facets exist to connect vertebrae together and help facilitate smooth motion throughout the back. They also help keep the spine stabilized and prevent it from motion that could be potentially harmful to the vital nerves that are located within the spinal column.
Facet joints are lined with cartilage which not only helps ensure smooth movement between bones but also serve as shock absorbers for the daily weight and pressure that is naturally put on the spine.
However, like many other joints throughout the body, facets are susceptible to natural wear and tear and can, over time, can experience cartilage degeneration. When this happens, the conjoined vertebrae can begin to rub together which can cause inflammation, swelling and other painful symptoms.
Additionally, if the bones rub together for long enough, the body will naturally begin to address the instability within the spine by creating bone spurs, thickened ligaments or even cysts that can potentially pinch or put pressure on adjacent nerves exiting the spinal column.
If allowed to progress far enough, these symptoms can cause debilitating pain and make simple, daily activities almost unbearable.
Symptoms of facet joint disease EXPERT
Throbbing lower back pain that radiates into the buttocks or upper thighs
Pain that goes from the back of the neck out to the shoulders
Tenderness of certain areas of the spine
Pain that is exasperated through certain spine movements, like twisting your back, bending over, leaning back, etc.
Causes of facest disease
Unexpected, traumatic injuries that occur as a result of a car accident, high impact sports or significant fall