The facet joints are the connections between the vertebrae of the spine that allow for the flexion and extension of the spine. Like any other joint in the body, the facet joints can become inflamed and irritated due to repetitive stress or trauma. The pain and stiffness associated with this inflammation is often referred to as “Facet Joint Syndrome” and can manifest as episodes of severe pain that can occur from a few times a month to everyday.
Patients will generally experience tenderness over the facet joint as well as a loss of spinal flexibility. If the facet joints in the lumbar spine are affected and compress a nerve root, the pain will often radiate from the lower back into the buttocks and the back of the thighs. Cervical facet joint pain, on the other hand, radiates into the shoulders or upper back and can even spread upward to the neck causing headaches.
Early treatment of facet joint pain offers the best prognosis as the more the joints swell the more likely they are to cause irritation to the spinal nerves. Treatment for facet joint pain focuses on reducing pain while restoring range of motion in the spine. Nonsurgical options include physical therapy, which is used to strengthen the muscles surrounding the facet joints.
If physical therapy has not provided relief, facet joint injections can be administered to the affected joints. These injections use either a steroid or anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation in the facet joints and alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves.
If both physical therapy and injection therapy have not provided long-term pain relief, and there is compression of the nerve roots (stenosis) causing pain or weakness, a surgical procedure may be indicated. The procedure can decrease pressure on the nerve roots and decrease pain.
The spine specialists at New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery treat conditions of the cervical and lumbar spine using both non-surgical and surgical modalities. New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery is led by Dr. Dante Implicito and Dr. John Koerner and has offices in Glen Rock and Maywood, NJ. Both physicians have extensive training and experience in the utilization of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery techniques as well as non-surgical techniques.
While here at New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery, all steps in your treatment will be clearly reviewed with you by our outstanding and expert team. Our goal is to ensure your return to the healthy and active lifestyle you enjoyed in the quickest and most effective way possible. Each patient is an individual and must be treated like an individual. Our doctors emphasize a personalized and individualized treatment plan for all of their patients that aim to ensure that each patient is educated and informed when it comes to their procedure.