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Facet joints are the structures that connect the spinal vertebrae to each other. A facet joint is like many other joints in the body — it has a cartilage lining that allows the bones to glide smoothly over each other and is surrounded by a protective capsule. The function of a facet joint is to provide stability, mobility and support to the spine. Each vertebra has two facet joints, one on each side.
Diagnosing facet disease
Some of the terms commonly used in the diagnosis of facet problems include:
- Facet arthritis
- Facet joint syndrome
- Facet disease
- Facet hypertrophy
- Degenerative facet joints
These terms all refer to essentially the same thing — osteoarthritis or degeneration of a facet joint.
Causes of facet disease
Facet disease is caused by the cartilage in the joints being worn down as a result of wear, aging, injury or misuse. This type of injury to the spine can be attributed to arthritis of the spine, work, over-use or an accident. Facet disease occurs when a facet joint degenerates. While this can take place at any level of the spine, it most commonly affects the lumbar (lower spine) region. Another possible result of facet disease is spondylolisthesis, which occurs when a vertebra slips forward in relation to an adjacent vertebra, usually in the lumbar spine.
Symptoms of facet disease
Symptoms related to facet joint problems are usually localized to the area of the affected joint and are often experienced in the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (lower back) regions. Common symptoms that occur in patients with facet disease include:
- Lower back pain that radiates to the buttocks and upper thigh area.
- Pain may occur in the back of the neck and radiate to the top of the shoulders or around the neck.
- Bone spurs
- Tenderness in the spine
- Conservative treatments for facet disease
Since there are many causes of neck and back pain, it is important to obtain a proper diagnosis. Facet disease diagnosis is relatively easy to accomplish with a thorough physical exam or a diagnostic facet injection (a numbing medication injected into the facet joint). If the source of the pain is the facet joint, then the pain should resolve immediately after the injection. If the pain persists after an injection, it may be caused by spinal stenosis or a herniated/bulging disc, which require different treatments.
Minimally invasive facet disease surgery
If an injection doesn’t effectively relieve the pain, the next step could be a laser facet thermal ablation, which is performed through a small tube and is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery. The laser, fiber optics and irrigation apparatus are placed in the tube to facilitate surgery on the facet joint. Facet thermal ablation is normally performed in combination with a decompression procedure.
The board-certified surgeons at Laser Spine Brevard will use a small incision to debride (clean) the joint and deaden the local joint nerve, similar to a root canal procedure performed by an endodontist on a tooth. Laser facet thermal ablation takes a short period of time to complete and can help resolve the pain associated with the facet joint. Contact our dedicated team with any questions or concerns you may have about our outpatient procedures.
Laser Spine Brevard is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. To find out if you are a candidate, reach out to Laser Spine Brevard today.
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Laser Spine Brevard encompasses the absolute best board-certified physicians that have dedicated their lives to eliminating neck pain and back pain.
Our minimally invasive procedures are highly focused and designed specifically for each patient. Every procedure is done outpatient, which means the patient can go home the same day. At Laser Spine Brevard, your relief is our mission. Every member of our team, from your patient advocate to your surgeon, will have that mission in mind.
Why Choose Laser Spine Brevard?
Laser Spine Brevard believes in a comprehensive approach to spine pain care. Each patient is treated as an individual with personalized treatment and therapy to achieve their personal goals.
15,000 Successful Surgeries
To put it simply…a lot. Our surgeons have performed over 15,000 successful spine procedures. Each one is board certified and extremely skilled in fighting neck and back pain. We are the leaders in Laser Spine Surgery.
Minimally Invasive Procedures
The best choice for patients suffering from neck and back pain. This form of minimally invasive surgery provides an alternative to regular surgical procedures when other treatment methods have not produced the desired results. Laser techniques offer faster recovery times with fewer complications.
That’s why we are here. We have a duty to the patient to do everything we can to eliminate neck and back pain. Our newest location in Brevard is equipped to handle the most complex cases. Our surgeons are highly specialized and focused on eliminating chronic pain and getting patients back to a