FACET JOINT SYNDROME

Introduction
Facet joints are the small joints behind and between each of your spinal vertebrae that allow you to bend and twist. Whether due to age or injury, pain and swelling can occur and cause difficulty twisting the spine. Pain and swelling caused by osteoarthritis in the joint can be disabling and frightening. Facet joint syndrome is one of the most common disabling chronic spinal disorders.

Acute episodes typically affect people above the age of 50 and occur a few times per year. When your pain has lasted more than three months, it is considered facet joint syndrome. Chronic pain makes it difficult for you to conduct routine activities without distress. Regular chiropractic care can provide relief from back pain with a natural, drug-free approach.

Symptoms
The primary symptom of facet joint syndrome is mild to severe chronic back or neck pain. You are likely to experience soreness or swelling near the affected joint. If the vertebrae in your neck are affected, you may have to turn your entire body to look left or right, and pain may radiate into your shoulders or upper back. When it occurs in your lower back, you may find it difficult to straighten your back or get up out of a chair, and pain will often radiate into the buttocks and upper leg.

Causes
Typically affecting patients above the age of 50, the discs between your vertebrae degenerate and collapse, and the facets no longer line up as designed. As it progresses, the cartilage and synovial fluid that lubricates the facet joints are eventually destroyed as well, leaving bone rubbing on bone, creating chronic and sometimes debilitating low back pain.Joint dysfunctions can cause you to experience pain, decreased mobility, or many other symptoms.

Diagnosis
Your doctor will begin with a complete history and physical exam and then may order diagnostic tests to diagnose facet joint syndrome. X-rays can determine whether there are abnormalities in your spine affecting your facet joints, or your doctor may recommend a CT scan to get a better look.

Treating Facet Joint Pain
Once a diagnosis of facet joint syndrome has been confirmed, your doctor will likely recommend a well-rounded rehabilitation program to calm the pain and inflammation and improve your mobility and strength. Ultrasound and electrostimulation may also be used to treat muscle spasms. Massage and muscle stretching may also be helpful. Chiropractic manipulation is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints.

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