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What is Facet Joint Disease?

Facet joint disease refers to the enlargement or inflammation of the small joints that connect spinal bones.

Facet joints are small joints that connect the spine’s vertebrae at the sides. They are essential for normal back and neck movement. A number of conditions and causes can result in pain at the facet joints, and can develop into facet joint disease, also called facet hypertrophy (which means excessive growth), or arthritis (which means inflammation).

Symptoms of Facet Joint Disease

Depending on the location of the facet joints affected, symptoms can appear along the following lines, usually localized to a joint or joints:

    Common symptoms of Facet Joint Disease include:
  • In the lumbar spine: Tenderness, pain, and tingling in the lower back
  • In the thoracic spine: Tenderness, pain, and tingling in the middle to upper back
  • In the cervical spine: Tenderness, pain, and tingling in the neck or head, headaches, and difficulty turning the head

In some cases, inflammation in a facet joint can impinge upon a nearby nerve and trigger a painful condition called a pinched nerve, sometimes classified as a source of facet joint disease.

Prior to having a surgical procedure to treat your facet joint disease, conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and steroid injections should be attempted. If these measures do not meaningfully relieve your pain, a North American Spine procedure may help you get long-term relief.

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Causes of Facet Joint Disease

Facet joint disease is typically considered a wear-and-tear disease, meaning age and repetitive stress on the facet joints increase the likelihood of developing the condition. The condition also may be a result of the another degenerative condition called Spondylolisthesis.

    Additional common Facet Joint Disease causes include:
  • Age-related wear and tear, which can lead to Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Back or neck strain due to repetitive physical activity, poor posture, imbalances in the musculature, or heavy lifting
  • Direct physical injury such as a car accident or fall
  • Genetics, whether or not the symptoms appeared in your parents

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Marsha J.

Condition: Bulging Disc

Procedure: IntelliSpineSM (Lumbar)

Hometown: Tyler, TX

“The procedure was 100% successful.”

“I was blown away by the results. A 180 degree change. Pain was gone and only mild ache on day of surgery. No longer required pain medications and able to sit without pain for the first time in 4 months. I am thrilled and believe the procedure was 100% successful to accomplish what was expected.”

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Some of our former patients have been kind enough to offer to speak with back and neck pain sufferers who are looking into treatment options. We encourage you to take them up on it! After we determine a treatment plan, we’ll connect you with a past patient who had a similar condition and procedure.

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