FAQs on Facet Syndrome
What exactly is facet syndrome?
The spinal column is a fascinating structure that is responsible for posture and support. Along the surface of the spine, on either side, are located thumbnail sized joints that are called the facet joints. These joints are found all the way from the neck to the sacrum, and assist in all those complex maneuvers your spine does every day. When they get affected with arthritis, the patient is said to be suffering from facet syndrome.
Facet joints, like any other joint, contain cartilage, therefore with age, just like any other joint, they undergo a certain amount of degeneration. As the cartilage is lost due to degeneration, the body tries to add more back but cannot generate it at the same rate as it used to. What that results in is excess bone as well as soft tissue being formed instead so that the joint can get firmed up again.
While these joints are admittedly really small, degenerative arthritis can cause them to make you feel a world of hurt all through your neck and back.
What are the symptoms of the facet syndrome?
Depending on the location of the facet arthritis, the person will feel different amounts of pain. It can begin as a back pain that then radiates to one or both sides, and then into the buttocks, hips and upper area of the thighs. Facet arthritis in the neck can cause pain in the neck that radiates into the shoulder.
As a result of all that excess bone and soft tissue that your body is producing, a nerve root in the vicinity could get pinched, resulting in spinal stenosis. Thus, either the arm or leg or both will suffer extreme pain.
What is the best treatment for facet syndrome?
You may think surgery is the best solution to get rid of it once and for all. But doctors suggest going that route only after you have tried everything else as surgery in case of facet syndrome have not shown best results in the past.
Primary treatment for facet syndrome should consist of drugs like anti inflammatories and Tylenol, which can help reduce the symptoms of pain. A doctor may also prescribe opiates and muscle relaxants, but their effects tend to fade over time, while the risk involved through their long term use increases.
Physiotherapy and chiropractic could also be considered to relieve pain, including manipulating the spine and stretching the paraspinal muscles. Stimulation using electricity, iontophoresis and other techniques could also help. Acupuncture has also been found to be extremely soothing. A TENs unit is a small unit that can be placed on the patient’s belt and which administers slight electrical shocks that can help in pain relief and is also effective.
When all else fails, surgery can be considered.
Interventional Pain Management
Facet injections are numbing medicine and cortisone that is injected into the facet joints for pain relief every couple of weeks or months. They are considered as low risk solutions and can be performed even in OPD. In case there is also spinal stenosis, epidural steroid injections can help provide relief. This is when cortisone medication is injected in the area around the pained nerves and their anti inflammatory properties soothe the patient. Statistically speaking 75% to amazing full relief results have been achieved using this method. Medial branch blocks can also help as they numb the nerve endings around the joint thus ceasing the feeling of pain. It is an excellent way of finding out the root cause of pain.
Radiofrequency ablation is a method of pain relief that requires radiofrequency thermal energy to be administered to the arthritic joint. Patients can be pain free for up to 18 months with this method, and it has been proved to be effective in over 80% of cases. This process has many names – radiofrequency denervation is a commonly used term. You may also come across radiofrequency neurotomy and terms like medial branch rhizotomy. What do you do if the pain comes back? There are numerous research reports which show that if the same procedure is repeated, the patient can get relief again.
What are the outcomes with facet syndrome?
Traditional methods can be used in order to relieve the pain without surgical intervention. One can reach tolerable limits without surgery. So the patient can usually get into many outdoor activities can playing with the kids in the park or walk around painlessly and even continue going to office for daily work. Only severe cases may need operation but the doctors always work to avoid it.
If anybody is suffering from pain take help from the Nevada Pain Network.Simply complete the form or call (702) 323-0553 today!