Facet Joint Arthritis: Frisco, TX
Facet Joint Arthritis affects the spine. It is also called spinal osteoarthritis or the degenerative joint disease. It is mostly seen in elderly people.  This condition affects the facet joints which are present in the spinal cord and these connect the vertebral bones. The joints are protected by a covering of connective tissue. This tissue is prone to wear and tear with age. Degeneration of this protective tissue affects the joints and they can no longer move comfortably. In some cases the body develops bone spurs to stabilize the facet joint. This further aggravates the spine structure.

Causes Of Facet Joint Arthritis

  • Aging causes the spine to degenerate and so it is observed in people above the age of 50 years
  • Injury to the backbone
  • Excessive use of alcohol and smoking
  • Obesity puts stress on the backbone
  • Poor posture
  • Thinning or wearing out of the intervertebral discs due to aging
  • Ligament tear
  • Spinal fractures
  • Herniated disc

Symptoms Of Facet Joint Arthritis

  • Inability to carry out day to day activities such as sitting, walking, bending, throwing
  • Pain is felt in the neck and lower back. It worsens after a period of rest and while waking up in the morning
  • Range of motion is affected increasingly
  • Stiffness in the joint
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensation in upper or lower body parts
  • Weakness of muscles
  • Reflexes may be slowed down
  • Muscle spasms

Diagnosis Of Facet Joint Arthritis

  • X-ray imaging
  • MRI and CT scan may be helpful in diagnosis
  • Analysis of the patient’s symptoms and medical history
  • Detailed physical check to test the reflexes, location of pain, muscle strength etc
  • An injectible dye along with a local anesthetic may be injected into the spine to numb the suspected location of pain. If the pain stops, the doctor can determine the exact location of bone degeneration

Treatment For Facet Joint Arthritis

  • Prescription of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants may be helpful
  • Physical therapy sessions may be required to improve joint function as well as to strengthen the abdominal muscles
  • Injecting corticosteroids into the spine
  • Application of hot\cold compression
  • Rest for a few days is advisable to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Sleeping on a firm mattress with the knees bent helps provide comfort
  • Traction can be applied on the spine to ease the pressure on the spine
  • Open back surgery may  be performed in case the condition cannot be controlled by conservative treatment
  • Facet rhizotomy- the nerve that transmits pain to the spine is cut off surgically. A large needle with a probe is inserted into the lower back while the surgeon monitors its placement within the spine. The probe is then heated and it cuts off the nerve
  • Surgical fusion of the painful vertebrae to form a solid bone