Our spine is made up vertebrae and small joints called facet joints. These facet joints, lined with cartilage, continuously shift and move as they support the spine and our body’s movement. However, as we age the cartilage cushioning our joints wears down, leading to grinding and friction between the joints. This friction can cause pain in our neck and back, soreness, swelling, arthritis, and even the development of bone spurs (small growths) on our facet joints.
Referred to as facet joint syndrome, this wearing down usually arises from the normal wear and tear of aging, although facet joint syndrome can arise in younger patients following an injury.
Neck and back pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, so an experienced physician may run a few diagnostic tests to rule out any other issues. They may take an X-ray of your spine, or in some cases a contrast X-ray, which uses a liquid that shows up brightly on the X-ray film to better identify problematic areas. Caregivers also frequently rely on CT scans to gather more information about your spine and joints.
Providers, physical therapists, and other chiropractic specialists will work with you to help manage your pain and regain a normal ease of movement. They may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to decrease swelling, muscle relaxers, or even massages. For more severe instances of facet joint syndrome, you may receive injections, steroids, or radiofrequency ablation treatments.
Facet joint syndrome can be painful and uncomfortable, so if you are concerned you may be suffering from this condition talk to your trusted provider. Together, you can develop a treatment plan personalized to you, helping you move easier, feel better, and live healthier.
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