Facet Joint Disease Relief

Facet Joint Disease refers to the enlargement or inflammation of the small joints that connect spinal bones.


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What Is Facet Joint Disease?

Facet Joint Disease



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).

Facet Joint Disease Basics

Symptoms. Pain, numbness, fatigue, spasms, compromised movement

Causes. Wear-and-tear, injury

Treatments. Decompression, stablization/fusion, injection

Recovery Rate. High

How is Facet Joint Disease Treated?

Facet Joint Disease treatment depends on you – your specific physiology and how advanced your case is. The North American Spine medical team and your physician will thoroughly evaluate your situation and recommend a treatment plan to provide both maximum relief and minimum recovery time. Treatment plants are grouped into three categories:


Fusion or Stabilization


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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.

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 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 injuries such as a car accident or fall
  • Genetics, whether or not the symptoms appeared in your parents

Treatments and Procedures for Facet Joint Disease

Treatment and procedure options for Facet Joint Disease range from conservative options like injections to more intensive procedures like spinal fusions.


Conservative Options


Conservative treatment options include nerve root blocks and steroid injections. These are designed to provide temporary relief (up to one year), and you may elect to have the procedure done multiple times. Other conservative strategies may include the placement of a spinal cord stimulator–or STIM–which is designed not to correct the underlying degeneration, but to lessen the pain the condition causes.




Decompression–including North American Spine’s unique IntelliSpine™ procedure–may be used for cases in which the structural integrity of the vertebrae or spinal cord is not threatened. These procedures concentrate on freeing entrapped nerves, typically be enlarging the space through which nerves pass. Depending on the demands of the procedure and your unique physiology, a special surgical laser may be used.




Fusion, also called stabilization, procedures may be used when the stability of the spine or vertebrae are compromised or threatened. In some of these cases, more than one harmful condition may exist. While these procedures are minimally invasive and enjoy a high success rate, some patients may be required to stay overnight for observation.