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Much like Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Facet disease is somewhat of a misnomer. Our facet joints support the movement between our vertebral bodies. As we age, the facet joints can experience natural wear and tear just like any other joint in our body. As with most joints in the human body, our facet joins are lines with cartilage to provide cushion and prevent bones from grinding on other bones. With wear and tear over time, this cartilage can break down and cause debilitating pain for a patient. Facet disease can also be referred to in other terminology as well. Sometimes it is referred to as facet arthritis, facet joint syndrome, or facet hypertrophy. All of which refer to the same pathologies. Although facet disease can be diagnosed at any vertebral segment of the spine, it is most commonly diagnosed in the lumbar spine simply due to the additional weight and range of motion that the lumbar spine supports. What causes Facet Disease? There are many different ways in which a patient may become diagnosed with Facet disease. Facet disease can be degenerative – this means that no specific trauma/accident caused the condition. It was simply caused due to natural wear and tear on the facet joints from aging and daily stressed put on the spine Facet disease can be caused by trauma – if a patient was ever in a motor vehicle accident or slip and fall, this can compromise the structure of the spine. Certain conditions like spondylolisthesis, disc herniations, or fractures (which often result from trauma) can cause facet joints to overwork and become inflamed or arthritic.
Symptoms a patient may experience from facet disease can include:
Pain that is local to the mid back, low back, or neck. Typically this is referred to axial or localized pain
Numbness and weakness in the arms, hands, and fingers (cervical facet joints)
Minimally invasive procedures that may be considered when suffering facet disease: