Your spine is comprised of bones, cartilage and nerves. There are small joints between all but the top vertebrae are called facet joints. They provide stability and allow for movement. If you suffer from back pain, especially if it comes and goes, it could be caused by facet joint syndrome.
What is facet joint syndrome?
There is cartilage between each of the facet joints in your back. And just like with the knees and hips, the cartilage can wear away over time from general wear and tear. Your spine is in constant motion, and most of us live our lives without being constantly aware of how we may be causing future damage to our joints. When cartilage in the facet joints wears down, bone spurs can develop, irritating the many tiny nerves within the joint. The joints become inflamed and arthritic.
Diagnosing facet pain
Facet pain is difficult to diagnose. The pain you experience is in the muscles around the affected vertebra rather than pinpointed in the spine. This pain can mimic other causes, like a herniated disc. One way to diagnose facet pain is also a treatment. For a facet joint injection or block, a doctor injects a small amount of X-ray contrast material, along with anesthetic and steroid. If the patient’s back pain is relieved short or long term, it indicates that the source was facet pain.
Treating facet pain
Long term treatment for facet pain without a surgical procedure involves some lifestyle changes and physical therapy. Learning how to prevent further pain with good posture, and exercises to strengthen back muscles may provide lasting relief from facet pain. Most people with facet pain do not need surgery, but need to stick to new posture practices and exercises.
For back pain caused by facet joint syndrome or other conditions, call Endeavor Rehab Center at (512) 284-7192. We have convenient physical therapy locations in Austin and Round Rock, Texas. Physical therapists can help relieve your pain right away, and show you how to stay pain-free for good. Call today or request an appointment online right now.