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What is Facet Joint Arthritis?
In the back of the spine, the vertebrae connect to each other through a series of ridges known as the facet joints. Each facet joint connects to the vertebrae above and below it with a cushion of cartilage and a fluid-filled capsule that surrounds it.
Like all joints in the body, the facet joints can suffer from Osteoarthritis if the cartilage between the facet joints breaks down. If the joints move without their protective cartilage, it can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. Facet Arthritis greatly contributes to cases of lower back pain (Lumbago), and severe damage or bone spurs near the nerve root can result in cauda equina syndrome.
Indication Of Facet Joint Arthritis
Treatments For Facet Joint Arthritis
Treatment options for facet joint arthritis aim to alleviate pain, improve function, and slow down the progression of the condition. They may include:
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or prescription medications to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
- Physical Therapy: Specific exercises and stretches to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, improve flexibility, and promote proper posture and body mechanics.
- Heat or Cold Therapy: Applying heat packs or cold packs to the affected area can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
- Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections into the affected facet joints can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation and pain.
- Radiofrequency Ablation: A minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to disrupt the nerve signals responsible for transmitting pain from the affected facet joints.
- Assistive Devices: In some cases, the use of assistive devices such as braces or supports may help provide stability and reduce pain.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular low-impact exercise, and practicing good posture can help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of facet joint arthritis.
In severe cases that do not respond to conservative measures, surgical options such as facet joint denervation or spinal fusion may be considered.
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a primary care physician, orthopedic specialist, or physiatrist, for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan based on the specific details of your condition. They can guide you through the recommended interventions and help manage your facet joint arthritis effectively.