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What is Facet Arthropathy?
It is a degenerative condition affecting the spine. The human spine consists of many segments of vertebrae running along the column of the spine.
Additionally, the space between two vertebrae contains two facet joints. These joints run along the posterior (back) side of the spine, and they help to align the vertebrae. They also limit the movement of the vertebrae. Facet joints consist of two bony surfaces which are cushioned by cartilage and lubricated by a substance called synovial fluid. When the facet joints begin to wear down and apply abnormal pressure to the spinal cord, it results in back pain. This is facet arthropathy.
Below, we list the symptoms of this condition:
Symptoms of Facet Arthropathy
Pain is the most common symptom. This pain, however, has specific characteristics:
- Worsening pain following rest or sleep
- Lower back pain worsening with twisting, bending, or standing
- Pain centered to a certain area of the spine
- Dull aches on either one or both sides of the lower back
- Pain that does not radiate down the legs
- Other conditions may develop, including bone spurs or spinal stenosis
Lumbar Facet Arthropathy
The lumbar region of the spine is the second lowest section of the spine, just above the sacral region, or sacrum. It consists of 5 lower vertebrae, which doctors number L1-L5. Lumbar facet arthropathy actually has its own set of signs and symptoms that signal arthropathy in this region. Below, we list the causes, symptoms, and risk factors associated with this condition.
Causes of Lumbar Facet Arthropathy
Symptoms of Lumbar Facet Arthropathy
- Back pain which worsens while twisting the body or lifting objects
- Neck or back pain which worsens while bending or leaning backward
- Stiffness or inability to move part of the neck or back
Risk Factors for Lumbar Facet Arthropathy
- Those who are obese or overweight are more likely to develop lumbar facet arthropathy.
- Older or elderly individuals are more likely to develop lumbar facet arthropathy.
- Women develop this condition in larger numbers than men.
- Because of genetics and family history, sometimes hereditary factors play a role in its development.
Bilateral Facet Arthropathy
This is one of several types of facet arthropathy. The main difference that makes bilateral facet arthropathy unique is that it involves degeneration on both sides of the joint, rather than one side. It can and does affect any region of the spine.
What Causes Facet Arthropathy?
This condition is accepted by doctors as a common cause of neck and back pain in many adults. It occurs when the cartilage between facet joints breaks down or sustains damage. Certain events and conditions generally lead to facet arthropathy.
- Osteoarthritis: This condition results from the wearing down of the cartilage in the joints. In most cases, it affects the hips or knees. However, it has the ability to affect any joint.
- Accidents and injuries: Sports injuries, car accidents, and even falls can cause damage to the facet joints. This potentially leads to facet arthropathy.
- Wear and tear over time: Having bad posture, lifting heavy objects, and developing disc problems all contribute to the breakdown of cartilage over time.
Treatment for Facet Arthropathy
Treatments for this condition involve a focus on relieving stiffness and pain. It also encourages patients to stay as active as possible. Below, we include possible treatment solutions.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin both relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Your doctor will either recommend over-the-counter options or prescribe stronger NSAIDs, depending on your specific situation.
- Physical therapy: This non-invasive option aids patients in regaining their strength and range of movement through exercises.
- Radiofrequency ablation: This process involves the use of radiofrequency waves. These waves shut down the nerve in the affected joint, stopping the pain signals from reaching the brain.
- Anesthetic injections: Doctors use needles to inject pain relievers or anesthetic into the affected area or joint of the spine.
- Spine surgery: During surgery, spinal fusion is an option. This procedure fuses the affected bones together into one bone. This allows for spinal pain alleviation by preventing the affected joints from moving.
How Do You Reverse Facet Arthropathy?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to reverse this condition. As a person ages, it is more common to develop facet joint arthritis. This type of back pain can be excruciating and chronic. However, there are treatments like exercise, lifestyle changes or careful management that will contribute to better quality of life. If these conservative therapies fail to control the pain, then your doctor may recommend injections, ablations or surgery for relief from this condition.
Injections and radiofrequency ablations can help with symptoms, but won’t actually affect the degeneration of your spine. Regular stretching, strengthening exercises and cardiovascular exercise may reduce stress on facet joints by improving the overall strength in your back and lowering inflammation throughout so that you’re feeling better.
Plano Facet Joint Pain Specialist
At first, facet arthropathy might seem like an untreatable, excruciating degenerative condition. However, with the right preventative measures, both surgical and non-surgical treatment, and effective pain management, relief is possible. A dedicated team of spine experts and specialists will help you achieve healing, comfort, and a better quality of life. The first step is to simply reach out and get in touch with the right Plano back pain specialist for your needs.
At The Pain Relief Center, our pain management specialists have extensive experience helping patients manage or relieve their back pain. As back pain is one of the most devastating and common conditions in America, we utilize state of the art technology and techniques to bring the relief that you deserve. To schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated specialists, please call 214-709-1904 today.
The most critical step on the path to recovery is finding a pain management doctor who can address your pain management needs successfully. The Pain Relief Center and its five specialized institutes are dedicated to meeting any and all of a patient’s needs. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Dr. Rodriguez and his friendly staff will help you along the path to recovery.
Our new center in Dallas is part of a nationwide development by Pain Relief Centers, geared to providing individualized and comprehensive healing and pain management services with unprecedented levels of compassion, care, and comfort for each patient.