Facet Joint Pain

The Facet Joint connects the posterior elements of the spine and is prone to degenerative changes. The facet joint carries up to 1/3 of the loading force of the lumbar spine. Osteoarthritis of the joints leads to cartilage fissures, fraying and erosions. Hereotopic Growth (bony spurs) leads to instability and inflammation. Degeneration of the Facet Joints account for approximately 10-15% of the cases with chronic low back pain.1

Symptoms of Facet Joint Pain Include:

  • Constant aching
  • Dull or sharp pain
  • Pain worsens with movement
  • Localized pain, but can refer pain to the hip or buttock area

The common types of nonsurgical treatments for facet joint pain are:

  • Lumbar Facet Blockis procedure where medicine is injected directly into the joint.
  • Cervical Facet Block is procedure where medicine is injected into the cervical facet joint.
  • Medial Branch Block is a procedure where the facet joints are "innervated" by sensory nerves that come off the posterior aspect of the corresponding spinal nerve. These small sensory nerves "dorsal ramus medial branches form a lattice work sensation of the facet joints. Local anesthetic block of the Medial Branch Block can temporarily interrupt the pain signal carried to a specific facet joint.
Reference
1. Pope JE, Cheng J. Facet (Zygapophyseal) Intraarticular Joint Injections: Cervical, Lumbar, and Thoracic. Injections for Back Pain. 129-135. ClinicalKey.com. Accessed July 16, 2019.

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