Some of the most disabling back and neck problems come from disorders of the facet joints. Facet joint syndrome is the deterioration of the facet joints in which the cartilage that covers the joint wears down and causes stress and damage. The bones can begin to rub against each other leading to other problems, like bone spurs. Facet joint syndrome can appear when the facet joints become damaged or over-stressed from general wear and tear, injury or from the degeneration of intervertebral discs.
Facet joint pain can vary based on the location of the facet joint syndrome. On the cervical spine, pain may develop in the neck along with headaches. Pain may radiate into the shoulders or upper back. On the lumbar spine, lower back pain may be felt. Pain may radiate down the upper legs and buttocks.
Treatment of facet joint syndrome should always be discussed with your orthopaedic physician. Some conservative treatments can include rest, anti-inflammatory medications, hot and cold therapy or even physical therapy. Facet joint blocks may be used to help diagnose and treat the pain. Facet phizotomy or bone fuzion may be considered if a more conservative approach fails.