Facts

  • A common cause of neck and back pain
  • Most common in the lumbar region of the spine
  • Typically intermittent and unpredictable
  • Occurs a few times per month or year

Overview

Facet Joints connect spinal vertebrae to one another. There is one facet joint on each side of a vertebra so there are two facet joints per vertebrae. Like all other joints in the body, Facet Joints are lined with cartilage to allow them to glide easily over each other and a capsule of ligaments surrounding the joint. Facet Joint Pain occurs when there is degeneration of the joint. When the cartilage wears away friction occurs between the joint causing pain, stiffness, and/or tenderness. This can occur at any level of the spine but is most common in the lumbar region.

Types:

  • Facet Joint Syndrome
  • Facet Joint Arthritis
  • Facet Disease
  • Facet Hypertrophy
  • Degenerative Facet Joints
  • Cervical Facet Joint Pain
  • Thoracic Facet Joint Pain
  • Lumbar Facet Joint Pain

Symptoms

The symptoms related to facet joint problems are generally localized to the specific spinal region; cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), or lumbar (lower back). When the problem occurs in the cervical region, pain occurs around the neck and often radiates to the shoulders or around the neck. When the problem occurs in the lumbar region, pain is typically experienced from the lower back down to the buttocks or upper thigh area. Guarding or decline in spinal flexibility is also common.
UPMC-facet-Joint-Injection-image

Diagnosis/Tests

  • X-ray of the spine
  • CT scan of the spine
  • MRI of the spine
  • Facet Joint Injection

Causes

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Injury or overuse
  • Factures of the spine
  • Torn Ligaments
  • Spondyiloithoesis
  • When one vertebra slips forward or backward in relation to an adjacent vertebra

Treatment

  • Facet Joint Injection/ Medial Branch Block
  • Laser Facet Thermal Ablation
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical Therapy
  • Proper Posture