Facet joint syndrome is similar to arthritis, and it’s one of the most common issues treated by Dr. Nikesh Seth. Facet joints are only located in the spine and can cause severe pain in the lower back or neck. It’s a degenerative syndrome caused by cartilage breaking down or becoming inflamed.
Since the spine is a column of highly moveable bones (vertebrae) that are connected to each other via facet joints, there’s a lot of room for something to go wrong. When facet joints are healthy, they glide when the back moves to prevent injuries. However, when these facets atrophy, uneven body weight can put pressure on the facet joints. This speeds up the wear and tear on the joint, and the cartilage becomes stiff and irregular. The joint no longer moves smoothly and gets irritated—this irritation sends pain signals to the brain.
The degree of pain varies greatly from patient to patient. There can be no symptoms, or the pain can be debilitating. With age, joint cartilage naturally wears down. However, acute traumas, repetitive motions, poor posture, and extra weight can all speed up this process. Facet joint pain can happen to men or women, and most sufferers are between 40 – 70 years old. Those with previous spinal injuries are also at risk.
A facet joint injection can offer immediate relief. It’s a simple procedure that injects a local anesthetic directly into the impaired facet joint. Facet joint injections can be used as either a means of finding the source of pain or as a standalone procedure for pain reduction. A special x-ray tool is used to guide the needle into place. The injection site is numbed, and various needle lengths might be necessary depending on the depth of the facet joint.
It feels similar to a vaccination, and many patients experience immediate relief. If you have back pain, a facet joint injection might be for you. Schedule a specialized evaluation with Integrated Pain Consultants by calling 480-626-2552.