What is Facet Joint Syndrome?
Facet syndrome is a condition that occurs when the facet joints in the spine become damaged or degenerated. The facet joints are small joints located between the vertebrae in the spine, and they help to support the spine and allow it to move smoothly. When these joints become damaged, they can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the spine. Facet syndrome is most commonly caused by wear and tear on the spine due to aging, but it can also be caused by traumatic injuries or other conditions that affect the spine. Treatment for facet syndrome may include physical therapy, medications, and in some cases, surgery to repair or stabilize the affected joints.
In a recent review in the Journal of Pain Research1 the authors worked to tackle the latest updates.
Lumbar facet syndrome (LFJ), also known as facetogenic chronic low back pain, is a condition that is caused by damage or degeneration of the lumbar facet joints in the spine. These small joints help to support the spine and allow it to move smoothly, and when they become damaged, they can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the spine. LFJ syndrome is a common cause of chronic low back pain, and it is estimated to affect 15 to 41% of people with LBP. Treatment for this condition may include physical therapy, medications, and in some cases, surgery to repair or stabilize the affected joints. There is still some controversy surrounding the best approach to treating LFJ syndrome, and more research is needed to determine the most effective treatments.
What is it and what are some treatment options?
The lumbar facet joint is a synovial joint in the spine, similar to other joints in the extremities like the knee and hip, that carries common degenerative principles. It is an anatomical structure with subchondral bone, a facet capsule and synovium that can become disrupted and cause pain.
Treatments, firstly, to relieve this pain, should work to stabilize and slow down the mechanical disruption to the facet joints. Excessive force to approximate the facet joint surfaces can often contribute to the ongoing problem. Stabilization strategies to reduce pain triggers can be very helpful.
Spinal manipulation can also help reduce intrinsic friction within facet joints. This technique separates (or gaps the facet joints) to create more space between the joint surfaces.
Medial branch radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that is used to treat chronic low back pain that is caused by lumbar facet joint osteoarthritis (LFJ OA). In this procedure, a small needle is inserted into the medial branch nerves, which are located near the facet joints in the spine. These nerves carry pain signals from the facet joints to the brain. The needle is then used to deliver radiofrequency energy to the nerves, which heats them up and destroys a small portion of the nerve tissue. This interrupts the pain signals and can relieve chronic low back pain. Medial branch radiofrequency ablation is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, and it can provide pain relief for several months or longer. However, the effects of this procedure may vary from person to person, and it may not be effective for everyone.
At ddd, we create anatomical models demonstrating disc dynamics to educate the patients using a realistic and dynamic method to help explain and modify pain, and in relation to this blog post, the facet joint. Our models include simulated hyaline cartilage, subchondral redness, and fibrillation to demonstrate facet joint syndrome. Optimize your context and empower patients to relieve their facet joint pain with ddd models. Explore.