Do you have dull aching pain in the back of your neck? Does that pain sometimes travel down to your arms? Is your neck not moving as well as it has before? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be suffering from facet syndrome.
What is facet syndrome?
Facet syndrome is degenerative joint disease of the facet joint that can mimic the symptoms of a herniated disc. It often presents in patients older than age 50 but anyone that has had repeated trauma such as whiplash or multiple motor vehicle accidents can suffer from facet syndrome.
Facet syndrome can occur in any facet joint but happens most often in high movement and weight bearing areas such as the neck and low back.
What causes facet syndrome?
The cause of facet syndrome is still unclear. There are several factors that can contribute to the presentation of facet syndrome.
These factors are:
- Age 50 or older
- Repeated trauma to the neck or low back
- Repetitive stressful movement
Degeneration of the facet joint due to age or trauma causes the inflammation that produces pain in facet syndrome. Inflammation irritates the small nerves located in the facet joint causing pain.
What are the symptoms of facet syndrome?
The symptoms vary from depending on the area that is involved.
In the cervical region the symptoms that may present are:
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Limited range of motion when turning the head and bending the neck
In the lumbar region the symptoms that may present are:
- Lower back pain
- Radiating pain down the buttocks or back of the thighs
- Pain when twisting or arching the lower back
How do you treat facet syndrome?
In both the cervical and lumbar regions treatment usually starts conservative.
Conservative treatments include:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Physical Therapy
- Hot/Cold therapy
- Range of motion exercises
- At home stretching
If conservative treatment fails there are other options such as:
- Intra-articular facet injections
- Median nerve block
- Radiofrequency neurotomy
- Cervical Fusion
Surgical options are usually not necessary because conservative treatment often resolves the issue. All surgical intervention should not be taken lightly and should only be considered if a great deal of conservative treatment has failed.
If you are experiencing symptoms of facet syndrome and wish to discuss your treatments options please schedule your appointment today.